Using SCardControl under Linux and from a Java program

SCardControl is the PC/SC function that makes it possible for the application to invoke ‘proprietary’ functions, implemented either in the PC/SC reader itself (CSB6Prox’N’Roll PC/SCEasyFinger or CrazyWriter) , or in its driver running on the PC, or in the PC/SC middleware.

The prototype is:

LONG SCardControl(
  SCARDHANDLE hCard,
  DWORD dwControlCode,
  LPCVOID lpInBuffer,
  DWORD nInBufferSize,
  LPVOID lpOutBuffer,
  DWORD nOutBufferSize,
  LPDWORD lpBytesReturned
);

(see http://pcsclite.alioth.debian.org/api/group__API.html for the PCSC-Lite documentation, and http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/aa379474%28v=vs.85%29.aspx for Microsoft’s version).

The lpInbuffer / nInBufferSize parameters hold the command buffer that will be processed by either target -reader, driver, or PC/SC middleware-.

SpringCard PC/SC Readers do provide a few ‘proprietary’ functions (called ‘Escape commands’ in the USB CCID specification). For instance, an application would send the command 58 1E 01 00 to switch the reader’s red LED ON. A question remains: what must the value of dwControlCode be, when the application wants to send the command right to the reader, bypassing both the PC/SC middleware and the driver? The answer varies with the operating system, which doesn’t help implementing portable code.

Differences between Windows and PCSC-Lite implementations

Windows

In Microsoft’s CCID driver (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/hardware/gg487509.aspx), the dwControlCode for the Escape command is defined as follows:

#define IOCTL_CCID_ESCAPE SCARD_CTL_CODE(3500)

SpringCard PC/SC Readers follow the CCID specification. SpringCard’s CCID driver (SDD480) uses the same dwControlCode as Microsoft’s.

Therefore, on Windows, the application would switch the red LED on this way:

#include <windows.h>
#include <winscard.h>

#define IOCTL_CCID_ESCAPE SCARD_CTL_CODE(3500)

(...)

const BYTE SET_RED_LED_ON[4] = { 0x58, 0x1E, 0x01, 0x00 };

SCARDCONTEXT hContext;
SCARDHANDLE hCard;
DWORD dwProtocol;
BYTE abResponse[256];
DWORD dwRespLen;
LONG rc;

(...)

/* Instanciate the winscard.dll library */
rc = SCardEstablishContext(SCARD_SCOPE_SYSTEM, NULL, NULL, &amp;hContext);
if (rc != SCARD_S_SUCCESS) { /* TODO: handle error */ }

/* Get a direct connection to the reader (we don't need a card to send Escape commands) */
rc = SCardConnect(hContext, szReader, SCARD_SHARE_DIRECT, 0, &amp;hCard, &amp;dwProtocol);
if (rc != SCARD_S_SUCCESS) { /* TODO: handle error */ }

/* Send the command */
rc = SCardControl(hCard, IOCTL_CCID_ESCAPE, SET_RED_LED_ON, sizeof(SET_RED_LED_ON), abResponse, sizeof(abResponse), &amp;dwRespLen);
if (rc != SCARD_S_SUCCESS) { /* TODO: handle error */ }

SCardDisconnect(hCard, SCARD_LEAVE_CARD);
SCardReleaseContext(hContext);

 

Important notes:

Working with MS’ CCID driver

With Microsoft’s CCID driver, the Escape feature is disabled by default.

In order to send or receive an Escape command to a reader, the DWORD registry value EscapeCommandEnable must be added and set to a non-zero value under one of the following keys.

  • HKLM\SYSTEM\CCS\Enum\USB\Vid*Pid*\*\Device Parameters (prior to Windows 7).
  • HKLM\SYSTEM\CCS\Enum\USB\Vid*Pid*\*\Device Parameters\WUDFUsbccidDriver (Windows 7 and later).

This is clearly explained in the Developer’s Manual for every PC/SC reader.

Using SpringCard’s SDD480 CCID driver shall be preferred.

Early versions of SDD480

Branch -Ax of SpringCard’s SDD480 CCID driver uses a different value for the dwControlCode parameter.

#define IOCTL_CCID_ESCAPE SCARD_CTL_CODE(2048)

Switching to the latest version of SpringCard’s SDD480 CCID driver (branch -Bx and onwards) shall be preferred.

Linux, MacOS and other Unix*

In Ludovic Rousseau’s open-source CCID driver (http://pcsclite.alioth.debian.org/ccid.html), the dwControlCode for the Escape command is defined as follows:

#define IOCTL_CCID_ESCAPE SCARD_CTL_CODE(1)

(See http://anonscm.debian.org/viewvc/pcsclite/trunk/Drivers/ccid/SCARDCONTOL.txt?view=markup for details)

Therefore, when working with PCSC-Lite, the application would switch the red LED on this way:

#ifdef __APPLE__
#include <pcsc/winscard.h>
#include <pcsc/wintypes.h>
#else
#include <winscard.h>
#endif

#define IOCTL_CCID_ESCAPE SCARD_CTL_CODE(1)

(...)

const BYTE SET_RED_LED_ON[4] = { 0x58, 0x1E, 0x01, 0x00 };

SCARDCONTEXT hContext;
SCARDHANDLE hCard;
DWORD dwProtocol;
BYTE abResponse[256];
DWORD dwRespLen;
LONG rc;

(...)

/* Instanciate the winscard.dll library */
rc = SCardEstablishContext(SCARD_SCOPE_SYSTEM, NULL, NULL, &hContext);
if (rc != SCARD_S_SUCCESS) { /* TODO: handle error */ }

/* Get a direct connection to the reader (we don't need a card to send Escape commands) */
rc = SCardConnect(hContext, szReader, SCARD_SHARE_DIRECT, 0, &hCard, &dwProtocol);
if (rc != SCARD_S_SUCCESS) { /* TODO: handle error */ }

/* Send the command */
rc = SCardControl(hCard, IOCTL_CCID_ESCAPE, SET_RED_LED_ON, sizeof(SET_RED_LED_ON), abResponse, sizeof(abResponse), &dwRespLen);
if (rc != SCARD_S_SUCCESS) { /* TODO: handle error */ }

SCardDisconnect(hCard, SCARD_LEAVE_CARD);
SCardReleaseContext(hContext);

Enabling the Escape commands

With this CCID driver, the Escape feature is also disabled by default.

You’ll have to edit the CCID driver’s Info.plist file to enable this feature:

  • Open /usr/local/lib/pcsc/drivers/ccid/Info.plist in edit mode with root priviledge,
  • Locate the line <key>ifdDriverOptions</key>,
  • The following line is typically <string>0000</string>,
  • Define the new value: <string>0001</string>,
  • Save the file and restard pcscd.

(More details on http://ludovicrousseau.blogspot.fr/2011/10/featureccidesccommand.html)

Writing portable code

The idea is only to use a #ifdef to compile the correct value:

#ifdef WIN32
#define IOCTL_CCID_ESCAPE SCARD_CTL_CODE(3500)
#else
#define IOCTL_CCID_ESCAPE SCARD_CTL_CODE(1)
#endif

Java

The javax.smartcardio API provides Java methods that are stricly bound to the underlying PC/SC subsystem. The Card.transmitControlCommand method is the wrapper for SCardControl. The prototype is coherent:

java decode:true">public abstract byte[] transmitControlCommand(
  int controlCode,
  byte[] command)
    throws CardException

Now the same question: what must the value of controlCode be? The answer is short: it depends on the PC/SC stack! SCARD_CTL_CODE(3500) for Windows, and SCARD_CTL_CODE(1) for PCSC-Lite. But with another difference: the macro SCARD_CTL_CODE is not computed the same way between both systems!

 

As a consequence, the Java application must detect the OS, and compute the controlCode parameter accordingly.

Same example to switch the red LED on:

java decode:true">import javax.smartcardio.*;

(...)

static boolean isWindows()
{
  String os_name = System.getProperty("os.name").toLowerCase();
  if (os_name.indexOf("windows") > -1) return true;
  return false;
}

static int SCARD_CTL_CODE(int code)
{
  int ioctl;
  if (isWindows())
  {
    ioctl = (0x31 < < 16 | (code) << 2);
  } else
  {
    ioctl = 0x42000000 + (code);
  }
  return ioctl;
}

static int IOCTL_CCID_ESCAPE()
{
  if (isWindows())
  {
    return SCARD_CTL_CODE(3500);
  } else
  {
    return SCARD_CTL_CODE(1);
  }
}

static final byte[] SET_RED_LED_ON = { (byte) 0x58, (byte) 0x1E, (byte) 0x01, (byte) 0x00 };

(...)

String readerName;

/* Note that the reader's name vary with the OS too!!! */
if (isWindows())
  readerName = "SpringCard Prox'N'Roll Contactless 0";
else
  readerName = "SpringCard Prox'N'Roll (00000000) 00 00";

CardTerminal terminal = CardTerminals.getTerminal(readerName);

Card virtualCard = terminal.connect("DIRECT");

virtualCard.transmitControlCommand(IOCTL_CCID_ESCAPE(), SET_RED_LED_ON);

virtualCard.disconnect(false);

Of course this code works only if the Escape feature is enable by the underlying CCID driver, as seen above.

SpringCard introduces new SDK for NFC-enabled PC/SC readers

It’s now the final countdown before the launch of new SpringCard NFC products, H512 and NFC’Roll. Both products are not only able to read/write NFC Tags, but they also introduce NFC peer-to-peer communication and an innovative Card emulation mode.

The developers who already have an early release of either product, or who want to start evaluating the development process, are welcomed to download the first version of the SDK, which has been made available today, together with its documentation.

The NFC SDK for PC/SC includes
NFcTool, a Tag read/write Utility,
NFcBeam, implementing the NFC Forum ‘Simple NDEF Exchange Protocol’ (SNEP) on top of NFC Forum LLCP (Logical Link Control Protocol), itself on top of NFC-DEP, i.e. the NFCIP1 peer-to-peer layer (ISO 18092 chapter 12). A typical use-case would be to retrieve a contact entry (VCard) from an Android smartphone, or to push a SmartPoster from the PC to the smartphone,
NfcTagEmul, showing how easy it is for either H512 or NFC’Roll to emulate a NFC Forum Tag (type 2 or type 4). This makes it possible to push a SmartPoster, URI, Text, VCard… from the PC to the smartphone, as smoothly as if the phone was reading a static Tag,
– and much more!

Edit 15/10/2013: starting with PC/SC SDK version 2.12, the NFC extensions are now included in the PC/SC SDK itself. Please read this article for details.

Those software are available with complete source (C# for .NET) in the SDK. Please download and read PMD2228: NFC SDK for PC/SC – Getting Started Guide for a guided tour and a few technical details.

Click here to download SpringCard NFC SDK for PC/SC

The reference manual for operating the readers from PC/SC applications is here: PMD2176: H512 (and NFC’Roll) Developer’s Reference Manual.

An installer is also available (SQ2211: QuickStart for H512 and NFC’Roll) for people who want to try the products but don’t need the full SDK.

Warning: a few changes have been on the specifications since the Alpha version of the firmware (1.6x branch). Products shall be updated to firmware v1.70 in order to be compliant with the final specifications, and to work with this SDK. Current 1.7x branch doesn’t include peer-to-peer in Target mode (only Initiator mode is currently implemented). This will be added in 1.8x branch.

Retrieving the firmware version of your SpringCard PC/SC reader

In order to retrieve the firmware version of your SpringCard PC/SC reader (CSB6Prox’N’Roll PC/SCEasyFinger and CrazyWriter), you’ll need the Springcard PC/SC Diagnostic Tool, available in our SDK (PcscDiag2.exe).

Once launched, the tool should display your smart card reader. In the following snapshots, the reader is a Prox’N’Roll PC/SC, but it would be same for other PC/SC readers (CSB6, CrazyWriter, CrazyWriter-HSP, CSB-HSP, H663, …).

Right click on it, and choose Reader Info :

A pop-up window will then appear, indicating the firmware version (1-64 in this example):

Note: Instead of right clicking on the reader, you can also press Ctl+R to get the same information.

Print and encode simultaneously using SpringCard CrazyWriter and Evolis Zenius

Evolis Zenius is a color or monochrome card printer. Evolis offers SpringCard CrazyWriter PC/SC (ISO 14443, ISO 15693 + 2 SAM) as the contactless encoding option for Zenius -as well as for the other printers in its portfolio. Zenius plus CrazyWriter makes it easy to issue personalized cards on-the-field.

In this article we’ll show how to synchronize the card encoding part (CrazyWriter PC/SC) with the card printing job using Evolis’ SDK. Our sample project (C# source code available in the PC/SC SDK, under folder /samples/dotnet/ZeniusVCard) is a real-world example: we print a business card on a Desfire EV1 smartcard, and we store a vCard object into the Desfire, following NFC Forum standard known as ‘NFC Forum Type 4 tag’. Doing so, the business card goes NFC and could be read by any compliant smartphone, that will automatically add the vCard data to its contact list! All you need to try the demo by yourself is a blank and virgin Desfire EV1 card, and, of course, an Evolis Zenius printer featuring SpringCard CrazyWriter.

In a nutshell

To print and encode a vCard, the process is as follows:

  1. Ask the printer to take one card in the feeder, and to put it in position for encoding (in front of the CrazyWriter’s antenna),
  2. Recognize the card, format it if needed, write the data,
  3. Launch the print job,
  4. Optionnaly repeat the process, until there is no card left in the feeder.

The process always encodes a card before printing it. Doing so, should any problem append (not the expected type of card, card locked read-only…), the card is ejected immediately. No time nor ribbon has been waisted printing a useless card.

Architecture

There are two ways to communicate with an Evolis printer:

  • using the Windows spooler (as with any other printer),
  • using iomem.dll, a communication library supplied within Evolis’ SDK.

Sending print jobs to the spooler is straightforward as all the steps of the printing are handled automatically by the system. Unfortunately, once the job is launched, the software has no way to know where the card actually is in the printer nor to stop it for a few seconds in front of the antenna..

On the other end, sending low level commands through iomem.dll offers a lot of flexibility, but lots of things have to be re-implemented in the printing software. This requires a specific expertise and can be time consuming.

So we’ll take the best of the two worlds: iomem.dll will be used to drive the card in the printer until the CrazyWriter has done its job, and afterwards a print job will be sent to the spooler to actually print the card. We’ll also have to use iomem.dll again to detect the end of the print job, so our software will not try to insert another card in the path until the previous card has been printed and ejected.

Step by step explanation of the sample project

Selecting the target printer and contactless coupler

The .NET PrintDialog object (System.Windows.Controls.PrintDialog) if the easiest way to select a printer. The name of the selected printer is returned in PrintDialog.PrinterSettings.PrinterName.

There’s no immediate way to know which CrazyWriter (or in general which PC/SC reader) belongs to the selected printer. So we display our common ‘Select PC/SC Reader’ dialog to let the user find the reader. Default is to select the contactless interface of the first available CrazyWriter.

Controlling the printer through iomem.dll

First step is to gain access to iomem.dll‘s entry points from our C# application. The function used are:

  • OpenPebble
  • ClosePebble
  • ReadPebble
  • WritePebble
  • GetTimeout
  • SetTimeout


Please refer to Evolis’ SDK for a detailed documentation of the DLL.

OpenPebble(PrinterName) gives use access to the printer, we then can use the couple WritePebble/ReadPebble to send arbitrary commands to the printer -and wait for its answer.

Here are the 3 only commands we need:

  • Rlr;h to check whether the feeder is empty,
  • Sic to load a card from the feeder, and to move it into position for encoding (in front of the CrazyWriter’s antenna),
  • Se to eject the card (in case the encoding has failed).

If the encoding is successful, sending a print job to the spooler is enough to make the printer take the card from its current position (in front of the antenna), print it, and eject it.

To know whether the print job is terminated or still pending, we’ll use a very simple trick: as the printer is not available to answer to iomem.dll commands while it is under control of the system’s spooler, we’ll send repeated dummy commands, and we’ll know that the job is ended when we’ll get an answer at last. The dummy command is:

  • Rfv read firmware version

Please also refer to Evolis’ SDK for details regarding the printer’s command set.

Encoding the vCard on the contactless card

This part is shared with the vCard part of NFCTool, another of our samples. The only difference is that NFCTool can also read cards, and implements a ‘wake up on card arrival’ scheme that doesn’t have to be implemented in this sample. The card ‘arrives’ only after a successful invocation of the “Sic” control command.

We start by opening a PC/SC channel to the card: scard = new SCardChannel(ReaderName) (see the documentation of our PC/SC for .NET API for details).

Then we use the methods of our NfcTag object (NfcTag.IdentifyTagType, NfcTag.BackgroundRecognize) to check whether the card is a NFC Forum tag or not. It must be either already formatted (and offering enough memory space to store the vCard) or a Desfire EV1 that we know how to format and write. Note that BackgroundRecognize, as the name says, performs the recognition in a background thread and invoke a callback function once done. This is generally speaking a good practice to implement card-related stuff in a background thread so the application’s window remains ‘alive’ even if the card takes its time to answer. At this step, the card is now for sure compliant with NFC Forum type 4 specification (or has been ejected if not, or if the user has chosen not to overwrite existing data).

Eventually, a new NfcVCard object is created, populated with the data entered by the user, and inserted as the content of the NfcTag objet. The the NfcTag.BackgroundWrite method is called, so the vCard content goes actually into the card. Once again this is done in a background thread.

Printing the layout on the card

At the end of the writing (that takes no more than one second anyway), the callback that is invoked launches the print job.

To print our business card, we process as follow:

  1. Create a PrintDocument object (System.Drawing.Printing.PrintDocument),
  2. Add to this PrintDocument object a PrintPageEventHandler function that will be invoked to actually draw the layout,
  3. Code the PrintPageEventHandler to implement the drawing of the business card from the data entered by the user,
  4. Invoke the PrintDocument.Print() method to send it to the spooler.

In this example, the PrintPageEventHandler is implemented in the FormatBusinnessCard function. The name and the title are printed in the middle of the card, respectively in Arial 16 and Arial 14; the contact information (business phone and e-mail) are in the down-left corner in Arial 10; the picture is printed in the up-right corner; etc… Of course this is the first thing you’ll have to change to design your cards according your own layout.

Waiting for the end of the job

Once PrintDocument.Print() has been called, there’s nothing else to do but wait. The spooler works in background, so the application is free to do anything else, but we can’t start encoding another card until the current one has been printed and ejected. Therefore we implement a waiting loop, sending the “Rfv” command through iomem.dll repeatedly. Once the printer responds, we know that the job is over. We could then loop to go on with the next card.

PC/SC driver updated

We’ve just published a new release of our WHQL-certified driver for SpringCard PC/SC products. This new version (code name: SDD480-BB) fixes a few bugs that have been experienced with the earlier release:
– corrected a memory leakage that used to occur as a consequence of frequent SCardControl calls
– CSB6 now reports correctly “card mute” when a card is physically inserted but unresponsive
– improved overall stability on multi-slot readers thanks to a stricter synchronization of SCardTransmit calls

To download the driver, please go to http://www.springcard.com/download/find.php?file=sdd480. The installer now contains both x86 and x64 binaries, and select automatically the one adapted to your system. It will also be available through Windows Update in a few days.

As the previous one, this release targets all SpringCard USB CCID readers :
CSB6
CrazyWriter
EasyFinger
Prox’N’Roll PC/SC

Users are welcome to deploy this new release as soon as possible.

New PC/SC SDK and sample applications

The version 2.00 of our PC/SC SDK is now available for download: pcsc-sdk_2-00.zip. This SDK works with our PC/SC readers (CSB6Prox’N’Roll PC/SCEasyFinger and CrazyWriter).

This release of the SDK includes a new PC/SC Diag application, rewritten from scratch in C# for the .NET framework (previous version written in C++ with MFC for Win32 is still available anyway). This PC/SC Diagnostic application makes it easy to exchange APDU commands/responses (SCardTransmit) with the smartcard in a given reader, and/or to send directly control commands to the reader itself (SCardControl). Giving the user full control on the various options given by the other winscard.dll‘s function (SCardConnect, SCardReconnect, SCardDisconnect), this new version of PC/SC Diag is the must-have utility to discover the PC/SC world and to explore virtually any smartcard “by hand”.

The SDK provides both the source code and the compiled binaries. Should you want to use the software directly, you may download and install PC/SC Diag for Windows through this setup package: PC/SC Diag setup (SQ2075).

The SDK also now includes a brand new application to deal with NFC Forum tags, according to the SmartPoster and vCard specifications. NFCTool is able to both format, write and read the popular NFC Forum type 2 tags (NXP Mifare UL and UL C family, Infineon My-D NFC SLE66 series, Kovio 2KB tags, and more) and also the NFC Forum type 4 tags (formatting is implemented only for NXP Desfire EV1, but read/write is designed to operate with virtually any compliant card already formatted). A companion to NFCTool is NFCSpTray is a small utility that sits in the tray-bar and waits “silently” until a tag holding a valid SmartPoster is presented on the contactless reader. Then NFCSpTray opens the SmartPoster’s URL in your default web browser. This is the first step for a NFC Forum SmartPoster-based navigation on Windows!

The SDK provides both the source code and the compiled binaries. Should you want to use the software directly, you may download and install NFCTool and NFCSpTray for Windows through this setup package: NFCTool and NFCSpTray setup (SQ2074).

Card analysis on NFCWizard

NFCWizard.com is a free web-based online service, created and managed by SpringCard. Thanks to a Java applet, NFCWizard makes it possible to read and write SmartPoster or vCard tags directly within your web browser! NFCWizard is compliant with NFC Forum type 2 tags (Mifare UL family, and equivalent chips) and NFC Forum type 4 tags (ISO 7816-4, including complete handling of Desfire EV1 chips). All you need is a SpringCard PC/SC reader.

More than that, NFCWizard provides a free and easy-to-use card « analysis » tool, that given a smartcard will tell you want kind of chip it may be, and/or what kind of application it may host. You can use NFCWizard with our products in the SpringCard CSB6 Family (CSB6Prox’N’Roll PC/SCEasyFinger and CrazyWriter) and our NFC readers/encoders (H512NFC’Roll).

Click here for a direct access to NFCWizard’s card analysis page.

New WHQL-certified PC/SC driver

Edited 24/04/2012: an updated version has been published to correct a few bugs. Please read this article.

Our new PC/SC driver is now online and ready for download! This driver (code name : SDD480-BA) has been certified my Microsoft’s Windows Hardware Qualification Labs (WHQL) for both 32 and 64 bits operating systems.

It targets all SpringCard USB CCID readers :
CSB6
CrazyWriter
EasyFinger
Prox’N’Roll PC/SC

Note: as the Prox’N’Roll has only one smartcard slot (its contactless card interface), it is not required to use our driver since the default CCID driver supplied by Microsoft also does the job.

The SDD480-BA driver is also ready for the new generation of USB CCID products that will be launched in a near future.

To download the driver, please go to http://www.springcard.com/download/find.php?file=sdd480

Choose either
sdd480_x86-ba.exe for 32 bits targets (certified and signed for Windows 2000, XP, Vista and Seven on i386 core)
sdd480_x64-ba.exe for 64 bits targets (certified and signed for Windows XP, Vista and Seven on amd64 or intel64 core)

The setup package uncompress the driver in Program Files\SpringCard\SDD480_x86-ba (or Program Files\SpringCard\SDD480_x64-ba depending on the target) and then installs the driver into Windows’ system directory. Of course you must run the setup with administrative priviledges.

The driver will also be available through Windows Update very soon.

A few more details for integrators and developers

Should you need to redistribute this driver with your own software or to recreate a setup package bundled with yours, just copy the uncompressed files and invoke DPInst.exe when you want the installation to take place.

Although we’ve done our best to ensure full compatibility with our previous (unsigned) driver and with Microsoft’s default CCID driver, please pay attention that the naming of the slots may be a little different in some cases. In fact slot naming and numbering has been designed to show clearly which slots belongs to which reader. Let’s suppose we have 2 CrazyWriter and 1 CSB6 connected to the PC. The 1st CrazyWriter instanciates 3 slots: CrazyWriter Contactless 0, CrazyWriter SAM A 0, CrazyWriter SAM B 0; the 2nd CrazyWriter instanciates 3 slots as well: CrazyWriter Contactless 1, CrazyWriter SAM A 1, CrazyWriter SAM B 1. Then the CSB6 instanciates 5 slots : CSB6 Contactless 2, CSB6 Contact 2, CSB6 SAM A 2, CSB6 SAM B 2, CSB6 SAM C 2. You see that the number is the same for all slots of one reader. This is the best approach to know which SAM (or contact interface) comes with whatever contactless interface.

Windows 7 complains on missing driver for smartcards – a practical workaround

Smartcards and smartcard-aware applications using application level commands (APDUs) are older than Windows and worked very well in the past, until Microsoft suddently decided that a smartcard shouldn’t be handheld directly by the applications anymore, and introduced the concept of smartcard driver software (ICC Service Provider withing the PC/SC framework). This issue sometimes occurs with our products in the SpringCard CSB6 Family (CSB6Prox’N’Roll PC/SCEasyFinger and CrazyWriter) and our NFC readers/encoders (H512NFC’Roll).

With Windows Seven, Microsoft goes one step further and mandates that every smartcard has its own driver (a ‘minidriver’ actually, i.e. a DLL running in user mode and not a SYS binary running in kernel mode). Everytime you put a smartcard on a contactless reader, or in a contact reader, the system tries to locate the appropriate driver, and this generally ends up with a red mark in the tray bar and this annoying message in the tray bar : “Device driver software was not successfully installed. Click here for details.” Luckily, smartcard-aware applications keep on working as usual on top of PC/SC API, thanks to classical SCardConnect / SCardTransmit function calls.

According to Microsoft, smartcard-issuers should provide a minidriver for their cards. The point is, the ICC Service Provider architecture is meaningfull to let security-sensitive applications access security features (digital signature, secure login) in an interoperable and high-level way, but it appears useless in other cases, when only one single software has to communicate with a single smartcard. And this is the case in 99% of the systems using contactless smartcards or contactless memory cards.

A techninal article has been published in Microsoft Knowledge base (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/976832/en-us) giving different solutions to prevent the system from looking for a driver and issuing the warning message. In this article we are detailing two solution :

  • 1st solution is to disable SmartCard PnP feature through a Group Policy. The side effect is that there’s not choice but to disable this feature for every cards, not only for the one that do not have a minidriver,
  • 2nd solution is to write in the system registry the list of cards that will not have a minidriver. In this article we do this through a small utility that makes it easier than entering the required lines in the registry one after the other.

Using a Group Policy to disable the smartcard PnP feature

Just follow this five steps :

  1. Run MMC.exe (Microsoft Management Console)
  2. Add Group Policy snap-in to the console
  3. Open Local Computer
  4. Browse to Policy\Computer Configuration\Windows Settings\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Smart Card
  5. Disable Turn On Smart Card Plug And Play Services.

Command-line utility to selectively disable some smartcard minidrivers

The principle is to register in the system registry the ATRs of every smartcard we don’t want to go through the PnP feature, and to associate them to a dummy minidriver.

Here’s the technical part (details are to be found in MS’ reference article (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/976832/en-us),

  1. Create a branch under HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Cryptography\Calais\Smartcards, name the branch with any clever name that will describe the related smartcard
  2. In this branch create a REG_BINARY entry named ATR in which you put the smartcard’s ATR
  3. Create a REG_SZ entry named Crypto Provider and put the value $DisableSCPnP$ in it.

You may also add a REG_BINARY entry named ATRMask to associate this entry with more than one ATR. In the ATRMask, bits set to 1 means that the bits in ATR are relevant, and bits set to 0 act as wildcards.

 

A sample source code to do so is provided by MS’ with the article. We’ve  implemented this source code in a small command line tool, and added a lot of modifications to ease its use and to make it possible to disable smartcard PnP for any arbitrary-entered smartcard ATR, and not only for the smartcards physically inserted in the readers at the time of execution.

There are two binaries : pcsc_no_minidriver32.exe for 32-bit systems, and pcsc_no_minidriver64.exe for 64-bit systems. Invoke either software with the -h parameter to get help. With the -m parameter, the software starts monitoring all the PC/SC readers. For every card inserted, it disables the plug and play. Alternatively, the -a parameter let you specify the ATR (hexadecimal string) ; you may optionally use the -n parameter to specify a name for your smartcard (this is convenient if you want to remove it from the registry later on !).

Note, you must run this program as an administrator.

We supplied the software with 2 command line scripts (.CMD),

  • pcsc_no_minidriver_memory.cmd disables every memory card (ATR constructed according to PC/SC v.2 specification for memory cards)
  • pcsc_no_minidriver_well_known.cmd disables  some well-known contactless cards that do not have a minidriver (NXP Desfire, NXP Mifare Plus, various Calypso cards, …).

Of course, use this software and the related scripts with care and make sure you really do understand what it does, as it may prevent your system to work correctly with your 20$-cryptographic card that do need its minidriver to work with CryptoAPI.

Here’s the link to the package : http://www.springcard.com/download/pub/pcsc_no_minidriver.zip . It comes with complete source code. Just unzip in a local folder and enjoy.

Mifare Plus in a nutshell

Following the breakdown of Mifare Classic security, NXP has released a new generation of contactless cards to fill the gap, the Mifare Plus. To ease the migration of the existing applications, this new chip keeps the memory model of the Mifare Classic : the card is structured as an array of 16-byte blocks, and the blocks are grouped into sectors of 4 or 16 blocks. The security (authentication and access control) is done on a per-sector basis. The two benefits of Mifare Plus are its new security scheme (EAL 4+ certified), based on state-of-art AES cipher with 128-bit keys, and its optional Random-ID for ISO 14443-3 anti-collision, useful to address card-holder-privacy concerns.

Type X or type S

Mifare Plus comes in two types.

Mifare Plus X is the full-featured product, allowing end-to-end AES-ciphered communication and a so-called ‘Proximity Check’ feature that makes it possible to prevent relay attacks, by measuring precisely the time elapsed between reader’s commands and card’s answers.

The command set of Mifare Plus X includes a function to select one-out-of-many Mifare Plus ‘Virtual Cards’ that could be emulated by a single NFC device.

Mifare Plus S is a lightweight version of the product, optimized to be a cost-effective drop-in replacement for Mifare Classic. It doesn’t support the ‘Proximity Check’ and has only limited support for the ‘Virtual Card’ scheme. More than that, it doesn’t support the Security Level 2 (see below).

Security Levels

The Mifare Plus has four different modes of operation, known as ‘Security Level’ 0, 1, 2 and 3. The Security Level is a static parameter of the card, the reader application can’t decide to operate the card arbitrary at one security level or at the other, it must operate the card given the card’ Security Level . Using a specific AES-secured exchange, the application may switch the card from one Security Level to a higher one, but this operation is not reversible (it is impossible to go from one Security Level to a lower one).

Security Level 0 is the out-of-factory configuration. In this mode, the card is not secured at all, and even not usable to store data.  Before all, the AES keys to be used all among the card’s life-cycle must be loaded, and the card must be switched to a higher Security Level. Pay attention that all the AES keys are transmitted in plaintext, so it is very important to do this personalization step in a trusted environment.

In Security Level 1, the Mifare Plus emulates a plain-old Mifare Classic. This gives the opportunity to replace existing Mifare Classic cards without the need to replace the readers or the handler applications. But as the card keeps on using the broken CRYPTO1 cipher, the security of the system is not better…  Yet an optional AES-based 3-pass authentication makes it possible to check whether the card is a real card and not an emulator, but per-se it doesn’t protect the data from unauthorized reading or modification.

In Security Level 2, the Mifare Plus uses the CRYPTO1 stream cipher just as Mifare Classic, but instead of using static 6-byte Mifare keys, the keys are generated dynamically by an AES-based 3-pass authentication. This is said to combine the security of AES with ‘the speed of CRYPTO1’. Anyway, in a typical architecture, the CRYPTO1 is implemented in the reader (by the NXP RC chipset actually) where AES is implemented in software on a very fast host computer. The gain in speed of ciphering remains small towards the overall bandwidth of the card-to-application channel; it may even be not significant enough to balance the added exchanges (loading of the CRYTO1 key into the reader after every AES authentication).  Also, the Mifare Plus S doesn’t support the Security Level 2.

In Security Level 3, the Mifare Plus doesn’t use CRYPTO1 anymore, but only AES. The new features (optional Random-ID, Virtual Card, Proximity Check) are available only at this Level.

Note that in Level 0 as in Level 3, communication is standard-compliant (ISO 14443-4 “T=CL”) where Security Levels  1 and 2 uses legacy Mifare frames (ISO 14443-3 type A).

Compliance between SpringCard contactless readers and Mifare Plus

Whatever the Security Level, all SpringCard contactless readers are fully able to communicate with the Mifare Plus chips (anti-collision loop and retrieval of UID, ISO 14443-3 A or ISO 14443-B communication protocols).

In Security Level 1 and 2, as the Mifare Plus’ UID is 7-byte long where the UID of a Mifare Classic is only 4-byte long, an upgrade had to be written in the CRYPTO1 authentication algorithm. This is available in firmware version 1.51 and newer. Earlier versions must be upgraded to be able to read and write data on a Mifare Plus at Level 1 or Level 2.

Using the card in Security Level 1 means only calling some functions embedded in the reader (Mifare Classic function set), but the other Security Levels  involve a new function set (AES authentication, ciphering and MACing, read and write commands on top of T=CL) that has to be implemented in the host computer. This requires a major redesign of the host applications. If the host is a microcontroller with limited resources, adding support for Mifare Plus could be difficult or even impossible without changing the hardware.

SpringCard APIs for Mifare Plus

As is has already been done for Desfire and Mifare UltraLight C, SpringCard has developed a convenient software library to ease the development of applications using Mifare Plus cards. This library is available as both as source code and as binary in the latest SDKs (PC/SC and SpringProx Legacy), together with a small sample software that shows how to personalize the card in Level 0, to change the Security Level (0 to 1, 1 to 2 or 3, 2 to 3) and to operate the card in Security Level 3, including

  • AES authentication (and generation of the session keys for ciphering and MACing)
  • Read and write functions with various options
  • Virtual Card feature

When the card is at Security Level 1, the existing samples for Mifare Classic could be used unchanged. The Security Level 2 is not implemented, as it isn’t available in Mifare Plus S that is expected to be the most frequently chosen one.

Documentation of the API is available online :

Choosing between Mifare Plus, Desfire EV1 or Mifare UltraLight C

The NXP Mifare family has now 3 contactless smartcards using ‘modern’ cryptography schemes for improved security.

Desfire EV1 is a full-featured microcontroller-based card, featuring 3DES and AES cryptography, a structured memory model (files within directories), and partially compliant with smartcard-standards (ISO 7816-4). Available capacities are 2KB, 4KB or 8KB.

Mifare UltraLight C is a low-cost wired-logic card with only 140 bytes of memory (the typical target is the market of disposable contactless tickets). A single 3DES key makes it possible to ensure that the card is genuine.

Just in-between, the Mifare Plus has a flat memory model (blocks) but with a good isolation between sectors,  2KB or 4KB of storage, and AES cryptography. The key advantage is the memory mapping that is the same as Mifare Classic, so existing applications that store data in the cards may be upgraded without major changes in their logic (yet changes in the security scheme and in the command set are not trivial…). But on the other hand, if the only need is to have a serial number or to store a small amount of data, Mifare UltraLight C does the job perfectly and is cheaper. As for Desfire EV1, its compliance to 7816-4 standard is the key in interoperable schemes (including future uses of NFC phones to emulate contactless cards), where the two other products remain totally proprietary.