Story of the Week  

Smart ID card for IIT Kanpur


Plastic ID cards are used for authentication purposes such as in driving licenses, Bank ATM card, Credit card, Club membership card, etc. Some of these are magnetic-strip card to make it machine readable. However given the right kind of equipment, the information on these cards can be modified easily.

Smart card is the youngest and cleverest one in the family of identification card. Its characteristic feature is in an integrated circuit embedded in the card, which has components for the transmission, storage and processing of data. Smart card offers many advantages compared to magnetic-strip card. One of the important advantages is that storage data can be protected against unauthorized access and modification.

Smart cards can be divided into two groups according to the underlying technology.

  • Memory cards
  • Microprocessor cards

The microprocessor cards have a processor, which is surrounded by additional functional blocks such as ROM, EEPROM, RAM and I/O port. The ROM contains the chip's operating system. The EEPROM is the chip's non volatile memory. The I/O is for data transfer. The advantage of a processor card is that security and access can be provided on a per item basis. For example while the name, department etc. can be publicly read, data of private nature such as salary etc. can be made readable only by appropriate authority.

IIT Kanpur has introduced Smart card identification system, which is developed at IIT Kanpur. With this Smart ID card new secure techniques are used in various ID related applications such as

  • Student attendance system
  • Library management system
  • Access control system
  • Various other ID applications
  • E-Cash applications.

IITK Smart ID cards are built on SCOSTA standards for the card operating system. SCOSTA is a nation-wide standard originally designed by IIT Kanpur for transport applications and currently being used in Driving License and Vehicle Registration Certificate within the country.

The SCOSTA standard is an open, inter-operable standard compliant to ISO IEC-7816 standards.

The information stored on the card include the following

  • ID related information
  • Keys and passwords
  • Access control information
  • Various check sums for data integrity
  • Personal information

The information is organized in eight files with different access conditions.


Professor Rajat Moona
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur

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