Smart Card - Online Article

A smart card is a mobile small computing device that is used to store secured information. Smart cards are replacing magnetic strip cards such as credit cards. Typically, a smart card has an 8-bit CPU and 64KB of EEPROM along with a modest amount of memory.

And similar to set-top boxes, there are many operating systems used in smart cards. The more commonly used smart card operating systems include Java Card from Sun, MultOS from MasterCard, Smart Card for Windows from Microsoft, and Visa Open Platform.

Smart cards are used to provide real-time, interactive access to secured data stored in the memory of the smart card. A security plan protects this information from unauthorized access and manipulation of information stored in memory.

Let's say that a smart card is used as an electronic checkbook. A consumer's identification information, checking account number, and balance are stored in the smart card's memory. When the consumer makes a purchase, the smart card is inserted into a smart card reader. A smart card reader is an input/output device that is attached to a bank's merchant network and is used to transfer payment from the consumer's account to the merchant's account.

The bank's merchant network first authenticates the consumer by prompting the consumer to present proper identification, which is commonly a personal identification number that the consumer enters into the smart card reader. Once the customer is properly identified to the bank's merchant network, the network determines the portion of the secured data contained on the smart card filing system that can be accessed by the merchant.

If the merchant isn't permitted to access the consumer's checking account information, the transaction terminates.

If access is permitted, the necessary information stored in memory to complete the transaction is deciphered, and the transaction commences. The bank's merchant network deducts the transaction amount from the checking account balance on the smart card and within the bank's own system and credits the merchant's account. The revised checking account balance is then rewritten to the smart card. The process by which the bank's merchant network verifies the transaction is called nonrepudiation.

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