A smart card reader is a data input device that operates and reads smart cards to help you get the data stored in that card and perform transactions. It is also a card programmer because it lets you write to a card acceptance device (CAD), card terminals, and interface device (IFD). There is only a slight difference between the terminal and the card reader.
A terminal is a self-contained device that can process. A reader is generally used to describe the unit that connects with the computer and enables it to function or process its requirements.
Smart cards are portable data cards that requires it to connect with another device for it to gain access to a display device, network or computer. It is required that you plug your smart cards into readers. Sometimes they can operate with radio frequencies (RF).
The function of the chip inside the card can be categorised in two. The smart card could be used as memory or it could be a microprocessor
It does not follow that the moment a card and a reader come in contact your data will immediately be open. Each device is required to identify itself with the other by sending and receiving messages. If the information that they exchanged do not match, it stops functioning and no further processing takes place. The advantage of this smart technology over ordinary bank cards is its ability to defend itself against unauthorised users because it uses very innovative security measures. The smart technology or sometimes as it is referred to, the chip card technology is now becoming more prominent in the techno scene and society as a whole.Apart from this security measure there are also more advanced ways of protecting your smart cards.
The smart card reader gives a path for the application to send and receive commands from the smart card. There are many types of readers available since the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) group was not able to provide a world standard for communicating with the different readers. Hence, there is no one size-device that fits all approach to the smart card communication technology. Examples of different readers are serial, PCCard, and standard keyboard models. However, even with all these choices available most computers now come with a built-in smart card reader.
Although there are many readers available out there we need to keep in mind that there are features that we all should look for that is desirable for a card reader to have. Card Contact types refer to how the contact between a card reader and a smart card is physically made.
There are two types of contact and they are landing contact and friction contact.
For the card reader that features friction contact, their contact part is already fixed. The contact wipes the chip and the card surface when a card is inserted.
For landing type contact readers the contact part is movable. The contact only lands on the chip after the card is wholly inserted. Generally, card readers that uses a landing type of contact offer more protection to the card compared to the friction type.
It will not take long before smart card readers become an integral part of every computer. Card readers are also accessible as a USB dongle.
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