Sun Launches ‘Java Card S’ Program

Sun Microsystems Monday extended its vision of a Java Card world with the introduction of a new program, approved profile, specification and development kit.

Under its new “Java Card S” program, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based network computer maker said licensees are now able to develop and produce cards using multi-application Java Card technology and still use current Java Card applets except for the dynamic post-issuance applet download capability.

The program lets card issuers purchase cards with a wide range of prices and capabilities including allowing multiple applications to co-exist on a single card. The program is being marketed to industries such as mobile telephony, financial services, government, healthcare and Enterprise ID.

“The new ‘Java Card S’ program allows Sun licensees to develop and produce cards using multi-application Java Card technology at a cost competitive to traditional proprietary fixed-function cards, greatly expanding opportunities in the smart card market,” Sun Java Card director Peter Cattaneo said in a statement. “With the new initiatives announced today, Sun is further accelerating the smart card market by bringing the benefits of Java technology to a greater variety of smart card products.”

Sun’s Java Card division boasts more than 400 million Java Cards issued to date and has been noted for its high-profile customer list including the United States Department of Defense, the Bureau of National Health Insurance of Taiwan and the Government of Belgium.

Key to the program has been the constant stream of developers’ tools and this round is no exception. The company has released its new Java Card 2.2.1 Platform Specification and Development Kit. Sun said the spec helps bridge the gap between Java Card technology and other smart card industry standards including GlobalPlatform and ETSI/SCP, the Third Generation Partner Project (3GPP) and Wireless Access Protocol (WAP).

The new specification also adds in next-generation security enhancements with support for AES and Elliptic Curve cryptographic algorithms. Sun said Java Card 2.2.1 is also backward compatible.

Sun also announced that its Java Card Protection Profile, which it introduced in May, received final certification from France’s La Direction Centrale de la Securite des Systemes d’Information (DCSSI), one of the most widely respected Common Criteria Evaluation Centers.

With the new Specification and Profile under its belt, Sun’ said it is looking to develop even more synergies between its Java Card and other secure hardware such as SIM chips.

“We are trying to recreate on the desktop what you see on a cell phone,” Sun Executive Vice President of Software Jonathan Schwartz said last week. “When you power on your cell phone, it doesn’t ask you for a password, the SIM chip inside that has been issued by the carrier is your identification not only to make calls but for other authentications as well. I mean, when was the last time you used a cell phone to place a crank call?”

Schwartz said multi factor identification on PCs is already being used with vendors such as Dell and HP and through USB peripherals. The Sun software czar said a user’s cell phone could also provide that kind of secondary authentication through a Bluetooth connection.

“This year, you will see SIMs provided by carriers for multi-authentications,” he said predicting Sun would announce additional support for Java Cards and SIM chips at the company’s show in Berlin next month.

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