Advantages of a smart card reader

Advantages of a smart card reader

What is a smart card reader?

The digital transformation has revolutionized many aspects of life, from economics to socialization. It has also encouraged the adoption of innovative technologies and the spread of new digital tools such as the smart card and the smart card reader that allow you to digitally sign a document.

What is a digital signature? The digital signature is a particular type of Qualified Electronic Signature (QES) provided only in Italy and regulated by the Digital Administration Code (CAD). It is based on a cryptographic encryption system with asymmetric keys, one public and one private.

The digital signature uniquely refers to a single owner and to the document (or set of documents) to be signed. The affixing of digital signature integrates and replaces the affixing of seals, punches, stamps, marks and trademarks of any kind for any purpose required by the legislation.

Furthermore, the CAD specifies that to generate a digital signature it is necessary to use a qualified certificate which, at the time of subscription, is not revoked or suspended. This certificate, the electronic equivalent of a traditional paper identity document, such as a passport or identity card, is kept inside a USB key or a smart card.

The digital signature simplifies and speeds up the sending and validation of documents online. This applies both to companies and professionals and to citizens and the Public Administration. The digital signature must meet three basic requirements:

  • Authenticity: the recipient can verify the identity of the sender;
  • Non-repudiation: the sender cannot deny the document they signed;
  • Integrity: the message is not altered along the way from the sender to the recipient.

Smart card and smart card reader: how to use the digital signature?

To use the digital signature, you need to purchase a special kit, consisting of a smart card and a smart card reader. You can purchase them from one of the trust service providers authorized to issue qualified certificates (for digital signature) and authentication certificates (for national service cards). In Italy they are authorized by the Agency for Digital Italy (AgID).

What is a smart card? The smart card is a hardware device, similar to a common credit card, which contains the digital signature certificate and has processing and storage capabilities with high security standards.

More generally, the smart card is a set of technologies (circuits, microprocessors, RAM memories, ROMs, EEPROMs, antennas and more) that form an integrated circuit.

The international standard ISO 7816 “Identification Cards – Integrated circuit (s) cards with contact” defines the physical, electrical and operational characteristics of the microprocessor and memory-only smart card with electrical contacts. For contactless smart cards, equipped with RDIF antenna, the references are ISO 14443 and ISO 15693 standards.

The smart card reader is the device that decodes the information inside a smart card.

How does the smart card reader work? Once connected to the USB port of the computer and after installing a software that allows it to communicate with the PC, the reader reads the smart card and allows the user to use the digital signature.

The most popular readers are the contact ones, models that require the insertion of the smart card in the reader. However, contactless readers have also been available in recent years. These do not require physical contact between the card and the reader. In addition, some readers are designed to read different types of smart cards and perform different types of operations.

Thanks to the reader, you can use the smart card to safely access all the online services of the Public Administration. For example, you can book medical exams or pay regional taxes from home.

And if you are looking for a digital signature to sign digital documents quickly, easily and with maximum security, try Namirial Digital Signature.

Articolo precedenteData protection and digital identity, are they compatible?
Articolo successivoThe digital onboarding in banking