Friday, December 30, 2016

New version of pcsc-lite: 1.8.20

I just released a new version of pcsc-lite 1.8.20.
pcsc-lite is a Free Software implementation of the PC/SC (or WinSCard) API for Unix systems.

1.8.20: Ludovic Rousseau
30 December 2016
  • Fix a crash and potential security issue in pcscd

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

ATR statistics: TB2 - Global, deprecated

Article from the series "ATR statistics"

TB2 - Global, deprecated

The ISO 7816-3 specification is not public. So I can't copy/paste part of the text. I will use Wikipedia instead.

From Wikipedia
TB2, if present, is global. The usage of TB2 is deprecated since the 2006 edition of the standard, which prescribes that cards should not include TB2 in the ATR, and readers shall ignore TB2 if present.

In the 1997 edition of the standard, TB2 (8th to 1st bit) encode PI2, which when in range 50..250 (other values being RFU) encode VPP in increments of 0.1 V, and subsumes the coarser indication given by PI1 of TB1. Refer to that section for why modern Smart Cards have no use of VPP, and thus of TB2.

Historical note: Provision for TB2 did not exist in ISO/IEC 7816-3:1989, and was introduced because VPP = 12.5 V became a popular value in EEPROM technology, replacing 25 V and 21 V.

207099.90 %
0x3F10.05 %
0x4510.05 %

Only 2 cards use a TB2 value.
I agree these 2 ATRs are quiet unusual.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

ATR statistics: TA2 - Global, specific mode byte

Article from the series "ATR statistics"

TA2 - Global, specific mode byte

The ISO 7816-3 specification is not public. So I can't copy/paste part of the text. I will use Wikipedia instead.

From Wikipedia
Interface byte TA2, if present, is global, and is named the specific mode byte.

Presence of TA2 commands that the reader use specific mode as defined by TA2 and earlier global bytes, rather than negotiable mode when TA2 is absent.

TA2 encodes in its 4 low-order bits an integer T defining the protocol required by the card, in the convention used for TD1 (EMV prescribes that a card which T encoded in TA2 does not match that in TD1 shall be rejected).

The 5th bit is 0 to encodes that the required ETU duration is Fi/Di clock cycles as defined by TA1 (or its default value if absent); or 1 to indicate that the ETU duration is implicitly known (by some convention, or setting of the reader; EMV prescribes that such card shall be rejected).

The 6th and 7th bit are reserved for future use; 0 indicates not used.

The 8th bit is 1 to indicate that the card is unable to change the negotiable/specific mode (that is, does not propose other settings); or 0 to indicate that card has that ability (perhaps after a warm ATR).

Historical note: Provision for specific mode did not exist in ISO/IEC 7816-3:1989. Back then, the interface character TA2 had no particular name or function, and was specific (to the protocol introduced by TD1). ISO/IEC 7816-3:1997 introduced the specific mode and the specific mode byte, with interim note helping cards with specific mode byte TA2 in their ATR dealing with a reader that did not implement specific mode.

198395.70 %
0x81482.32 %
0x80311.50 %
0x00100.48 %

TA2 is used by only 4.30% of cards. 95.70% of smart cards in my list have no TA2 defined.

  • 0x81 indicates "Protocol to be used in spec mode: T=1 - Unable to change - defined by interface bytes".
    • The 4 low-order bits are set to 0001b so T=1 protocol.
    • The 8th bit set to 1 to indicate unable to change the negotiable/specific mode
  • 0x80 indicates "Protocol to be used in spec mode: T=0 - Unable to change - defined by interface bytes"
    • The 4 low-order bits are set to 0000b so T=0 protocol.
    • The 8th bit set to 1 to indicate unable to change the negotiable/specific mode
  • 0x00 indicates "Protocol to be used in spec mode: T=0 - Capable to change - defined by interface bytes"
    • The 4 low-order bits are set to 0000b so T=0 protocol.
    • The 8th bit set to 0 to indicate the card is able to change the negotiable/specific mode

Friday, December 9, 2016

New version of pcsc-lite: 1.8.19

I just released a new version of pcsc-lite 1.8.19.
pcsc-lite is a Free Software implementation of the PC/SC (or WinSCard) API for Unix systems.

1.8.19: Ludovic Rousseau
9 December 2016
  • SCardGetStatusChange(): Fix a (rare) race condition
  • Doxygen:
    • SCardGetStatusChange() may return SCARD_E_UNKNOWN_READER
    • SCardConnect() and SCardReconnect() will never return SCARD_E_NOT_READY
  • pcsc-spy:
    • fix display of execution time
    • log the thread number in the results
  • Some other minor improvements

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

macOS Sierra and pam_smartcard

In Sierra a new smart card component has been introduced: pam_smartcard. PAM is Pluggable Authentication Modules.

The source code is available at macOS 10.12 Source and is part of the pam_modules component.


The pam_smartcard(8) manage is:
pam_smartcard(8)          BSD System Manager's Manual         pam_smartcard(8)

     pam_smartcard -- Smartcard PAM module

     [service-name] function-class control-flag pam_smartcard [options]

     The Smartcard PAM module supports authentication function class.  In
     terms of the function-class parameter, this is ``auth.''

   The Smartcard Authentication Module
     This module permits or denies users based on smartcard authentication
     support in the Open Directory database, and the presence of an appropri-
     ate smartcard in the reader attached to the local machine. When a card is
     locked, the user is asked to unlock it with his PIN.

   The following options may be passed to this account management module:
             Continues evaluation even if user's shell is not valid. Normally,
             users with a shell like /usr/bin/false are considered as dis-

     Adding the following line on the top of the /etc/pam.d/sudo enables smartcard support for sudo:
             auth   sufficient

     pam.conf(5), pam(8) SmartCardServices(7)

BSD                             August 27, 2015                            BSD

I guess this is related to the introduction of the native support of PIV cards in Sierra. See "macOS Sierra and PIVToken source code".

The pam_smartcard PAM module is used by two services by default:
  • authorization_ctk
  • screensaver_ctk
$ grep pam_smartcard /etc/pam.d/*
/etc/pam.d/authorization_ctk:auth       required  use_first_pass
/etc/pam.d/screensaver_ctk:auth       required  use_first_pass

$ cat /etc/pam.d/authorization_ctk 
# ctk: auth 
auth       required   use_first_pass
account    required

$ cat /etc/pam.d/screensaver_ctk 
# ctk: auth 
auth       required  use_first_pass
account    required
account    sufficient
account    required no_warn group=admin,wheel fail_safe
account    required no_warn deny group=admin,wheel ruser fail_safe


Another interesting man page is SmartCardServices(7). Here is an extract:
SmartCardServices(7) BSD Miscellaneous Information Manual SmartCardServices(7)

     SmartCardServices -- overview of smart card support

     SmartCardServices is a set of components for OS X smart card support.

     Any smart card which supports the PIV standard is supported natively by
     OS X. Access to smart card items is possible using the keychain inter-
     face. Applications can install additional drivers for smart cards that
     are not natively supported.

     Smart card certificates are automatically added to user's keychain when a
     smart card is inserted. Smart card certificates can be listed with
     security using the list-smartcards or export-smartcard commands. Keychain
     Access GUI cannot be used to manipulate or list these certificates.

     To associate users with smart cards, the system can be set up for either
     fixed key mapping or attribute based mapping. For fixed key use
     sc_auth(8) or use the dialog which appears automatically when an unasso-
     ciated smartcard is inserted into a reader. This dialog can be globally
     suppressed by:

           sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/ UserPairing -bool NO

     Attribute matching can be set up using the appropriate AttributeMapping
     section in the configuration file as described below. There is no default
     configuration. If no AttributeMapping exists or the configuration file is
     missing, attribute matching is not used. If both fixed key mapping and
     attribute mapping are able to associate the inserted smart card with a
     user, attribute mapping takes precedence.

     By default certificates do not need to be trusted to allow association.
     Certificate trust can be globally enforced by setting:

           sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/ checkCertificateTrust -bool YES



Since PAM is available in macOS maybe the PAM PKCS#11 module can be used without too much changes? This module is for GNU/Linux but may be adapted for macOS.

In this case, adding support for smart card login in macOS, if you already have a PKCS#11 library for your card, should be easy.


The use of smart card in macOS for high level services (like authentication) is easier in Sierra, at least for PIV smart cards.

I imagine that the support of other smart cards models will be proposed by third parties "soon".

macOS Sierra and smart card source code

Apple released the source code of the open source components they use in Sierra (OS X 10.12 released in September 2016). The components are available at OS X 10.12 Source.

As I did for El Capitan in "OS X El Capitan and smart card source code" I will document what I found.

The smart card related components are:

See "macOS Sierra and smart cards status" for a general discussion of the changes in El Capitan.


The version changed from 55108 in El Capitan to 55111 in Sierra.

The changes are very limited:
  • the Xcode project uses Security.framework
  • 1 bug fixed "to prevent uninitialized value when following CALL ends with exception" according to the source code comment

 SecurityTokend-55111/SecurityTokend.xcodeproj/project.pbxproj    |    6 ++++++
 SecurityTokend-55111/lib/transition.cpp                          |    1 +
 SecurityTokend-55111/security_tokend_client/transition.cpp       |    1 +
 3 files changed, 8 insertions(+)


The version changed from 55008.40.1 in El Capitan (10.11.4) to 55013 in Sierra.

No change:
  • the same libusb version 1.0.9 is used. This version was released in 2012-04-02. The latest libusb version is 1.0.21 released in 2016-10-01.
  • the CCID driver provided by Apple has 4 patches. These patches are related to the way Apple builds the driver.


No disruptive changes this time.

The source code of CryptoTokenKit (introduced in Yosemite. See "OS X Yosemite BETA and smart cards status") is not provided. That is not surprising since this it is an Apple only component and not a fork of an existing free software.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

OS X El Capitan and CCID evolution

In a previous blog article "OS X El Capitan and CCID driver upgrades" I mentioned the evolution of the CCID driver for the same major release of OS X 10.11.x.

With the availability of the source code at Apple Open Source it is easy to see what happened.

OS X VersionSmartcardCCIDCCID

I will try to closely follow the evolution of macOS Sierra (10.12) source code to avoid surprises in the future.