Pick a Card, Any Card: Fast and easy Windows logon using any NFC smart card

After finally reinstalling Windows on my main PC (the smart card components in the old install were trashed), I dusted off the old smart card reader and started looking into smart card-based logon options again.

Windows logon screen using a smart card

Windows logon screen using a smart card

After finding a way to force convince the installer for EIDAuthenticate, a program that lets you use smart cards to log on a Windows computer without the use of domains and Active Directory, to run on Windows 7 Professional (Microsoft DreamSpark only lets me obtain the Professional editions of Windows), I found a program called NFC Connector Light that lets you use any NFC-compatible smart card as a means of authentication.

Virtual smart card with certificate installed

Virtual smart card with certificate installed

NFC Connector Light links the unique identifier in an NFC-based smart card to create a virtual smart card on the local computer (no data is stored in the card itself), and that virtual card can be used like a real smart card within Windows. When paired with EIDAuthenticate, logging on is as simple as placing the smart card on the NFC reader and entering a PIN. This is especially useful when you set the Windows smart card policy to lock the computer when the card is removed (and it feels kind of cool to be able to lock your computer simply by taking your card off the reader).

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Update: How to install Windows x64 drivers for the Schlumberger Reflex USB smart card reader

A viewer requested help on installing the drivers for the Schlumberger Reflex USB smart card reader, so I’ve created a step-by-step instruction guide on doing so.

1. Plug in the smart card reader into an available USB port. Windows should attempt to install a driver but won’t succeed.

2. Open Device Manager, and select the “SLB ReflexUSB SmartCard Reader” in the list.

3. Follow the wizard and opt to install the drivers manually.

4. Enjoy your now-functional smart card reader.

Mini-Ramble: Magical flying smart card wishes you much success

magical flying smart card

Drew this during the end of my C programming final exam. If you know me in real life, you’ll know that I’m all about smart cards, little pieces of plastic with a processor inside of them. Also, 0x90 00 merely means “success” in smart-card language, hence the little tagline under the drawing.

Making Use of a Motorola Smart Card – Part 2

(Disclaimer: Smart card piracy is a very bad thing. This set of blog posts is NOT intended to further illegal hacking of paid services, but is merely a personal record of my research, which is not being done for any financial reasons but is only done for personal leisure. Besides, these cards won’t help you break scrambled TV signals, so don’t bother trying it :))

In between pulling all-nighters goofing off doing college homework and trying to stay marginally sane and/or healthy, I’ve been doing some more research into the cards. This time, I was a bit more invasive with my approach. However, I’ve found out a bit more about the card’s brains this way.

I’ve torn open one of the cards and taken a peek inside. The chip itself is a bit different in that the epoxy backing is molded much like a regular chip as opposed to the drop of epoxy used in many newer cards. The chip itself is pretty big, at 6mm x 4mm and with 0.1 mm thickness; the center gold pad is the entire area of the card.

There are many methods of getting the plastic off of a chip, and the more professional labs use fuming nitric acid (very nasty stuff) but one easy way to do so at home is using a blowtorch to burn the epoxy and simply chip it off with a toothpick. If it’s burnt thoroughly enough, the epoxy will just fall off the chip, revealing the pretty silicon underneath. I used a small butane torch to heat up the chip, which was done outside and on a piece of ceramic tile (safety first! :)) After a bit of picking at the chip, I was able to see the inner workings of the smart card’s chip.

I see 4 large blocks on the die but can’t tell much more without a microscope, and a 10x jewelry loupe only goes so far. My best guess is that the 4 blocks encompass the CPU, RAM, program ROM and maybe some EEPROM storage. There’s 14 pads on the chip; 5 pins are used for the contacts, maybe 2-3 for the radio interface, and the others might be for factory testing or programming  but it’s speculation at best.

Now hopefully my college prof won’t mind me using the classroom microscope later this week 🙂