10 December, 2009
Before the end of the year smart card vendors could have a standard card command set that enables interoperability between credentials without middleware.
The General ID Card Command Set (GICS) builds a standard language for the card command set so that different card standards can communicate without middleware, says Patrick Hearn, vice president of government and identification markets for North and Central America at Oberthur Technologies.
Oberthur, Gemalto and other smart card vendors started working on GICS in 2006, but the genesis goes back to 2001–before FIPS 201, TWIC, registered traveler–to the Government Smart Card Interoperability Specification. This spec was the first U.S. smart card command sets that would have enabled interoperability between different U.S. smart card projects, Hearn says.
The GICS command set has not been approved but it is in review with the B10 INCITS Task Group, a smart card standards writing organization.
Smart card vendors want GICS because it will save them money and time because they won’t have to go through separate certifications on all their different products, Hearn says. Traditionally new products and applications would have to go through different levels of certification–FIPS 140-2 and FIPS 201 are just two–but the standard command set would ease those restrictions.
It will also make it easier for software developers to create new applications because there will only be one command set they have to write to. “Instead of building separate applets it builds a standard language and allows flexibility,” he says.
GICS aims to work in concert with the different card standards out there, such as PIV, Transportation Worker Identification Credential, registered traveler and various corporate credentials, Hearn says.
Oberthur has been working with Microsoft Corp. to enable the commands set in Windows 7 as well.
The companies teamed to define a plug in that enables automatic smart card recognition and the use of the latest NSA-recommended cryptographic algorithms. Oberthur has already delivered the first prototypes of GICS compatible with Microsoft Windows 7.