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Published by Sylvain MARET
Training PKI and Cryptography
Training PKI and Cryptography

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Published by: Sylvain MARET on Apr 18, 2009
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Access Control

Plain memory cards may provide access restrictions through one or several Personal Identification
Number (PIN). However, memory cards may not protect the contents of the stored information
file from disclosure. A memory card can be compared to a floppy disc although providing less
storage capacity. On the other hand the card reader device is less complex and less expensive
compared to a floppy disc reader, thus enabling a better commercial ground for deployment in
environments where a floppy disc reader may not be present.


Memory smart cards should probably not even be categorized as smart cards. Their processing
power is restricted to perform storage operations but little else. Once a user/owner of a PIN
protected file in a plain memory card has been granted read access he/she can freely retrieve the
contents of the file. Hence, the actual file contents may be copied from the smart card. These
cards exist with various amounts of memory and can be used in applications requiring none or
limited read protection. They may for instance be useful for storing medical information
necessary for emergency actions, such as your name and blood type. They may provide write
protection, which enables them to be useful in other applications where adding or modifying data
on the card should be restricted. However, such protection generally requires more than just a
PIN code, thus the commercial use is limited.


Memory cards can not provide a secure non-repudiation service, hence not very suitable for e-

Unit 1 : Cryptography Basics

Smart Cards

© Dimension Data SA (Switzerland), Sylvain Maret & Cédric Enzler
Version 1.5, October 1999, rev. August 2000

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