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CITI Launches a Server on a Smart Card

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Nov 24, 1999


The University of Michigan's Center for Information Technology Integration has partnered with Schlumberger's smart cards and terminals division to develop Webcard, the first Web server to run on a smart card. The product was unveiled earlier this week.

Technologists at CITI implemented Webcard on Schlumberger's Cyberflex Access, a commercial, off-the-shelf smart card. Cyberflex Access is Java-based, a key benefit for the server's development because using Java enables "a standard development environment that is infinitely easier to use than that of the traditional smart card," Jim Rees, Chief Technologist at CITI said in a statement issued by organization. Code for the Web server was also written in Java.

The University of Michigan's Center for Information Technology Integration has partnered with Schlumberger's smart cards and terminals division to develop Webcard, the first Web server to run on a smart card. The product was unveiled earlier this week.

Up until now, smart cards have been used primarily for telecommunications and financial applications. One of the primary advantages CITI is promoting about the smaller-sized server is that it is more secure and tamper resistant because of its size.

However, neither CITI nor Schlumberger has stated how it foresees this technology being implemented.

Cyberflex Access is programmed to implement a Java virtual machine and recognize a sizable subset of the Java programming language. Cyberflex Access implements Java Card 2.0 specification on the smart card. Although Java Card is intended to support multiple applications on a single card, Webcard is written as a single Java Card application.

CITI elected to implement a subset of TCP/IP for the server's communication protocol. As Cyberflex Access card has only 16 KB of EEPROM and about 1.2 Kbytes of RAM, implementing a full, standards-compliant version of TCP/IP was not spatially possible.

CITI's main criterion for Webcard's robustness was to produce a server that responded to valid inputs and did not crash when presented with invalid ones. To help reach this goal, CITI elected to use only those features of HTTP, TCP, and IP specifications required in normal operations.

CITI is an applied research and development center at the University of Michigan. Founded in 1986, its purpose is to engage in advanced development and research projects. It partners with external sponsors to enhance the University of Michigan's information technology environment, and transfers the results from research undertakings to industry, government and educational organizations.

Related Stories: Earlier this year, the University of Massachusetts announced iPic, an inexpensive remote web-enabled computer, smaller than a quarter. See iPic Web Server Aims to Make Toaster-Net a Reality for more details.

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