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The Adoption Rate of JavaCard Features by Certified Products and Open-Source Projects

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Smart Card Research and Advanced Applications (CARDIS 2023)

Part of the book series: Lecture Notes in Computer Science ((LNCS,volume 14530))


JavaCard is the most prevalent platform for cryptographic smartcards nowadays. Despite having more than 20 billion smartcards shipped with it and thirteen revisions since the JavaCard API specification was first published more than two decades ago, uptake of newly added features, cryptographic algorithms or their parameterizations, and systematic analysis of overall activity is missing. We fill this gap by mapping the activity of the JavaCard ecosystem from publicly available sources with a focus on 1) security certification documents available under Common Criteria and FIPS140 schemes and 2) activity and resources required by JavaCard applets released in an open-source domain (Paper supplementary materials, full results of analysis and open tools are available at

The analysis performed on all certificates issued between the years 1997–2023 and on more than 200 public JavaCard applets shows that new features from JavaCard specification are adopted slowly, typically taking six or more years. Open-source applets utilize new features even later, likely due to the unavailability of recent performant smartcards in smaller quantities. Additionally, almost 70% of constants defined in JavaCard API specification are completely unused in open-source applets. The applet portability improves with recent cards, and transient memory requirements (scarce resource on smartcards) are typically small.

While twenty or more products have been consistently certified every year since 2009, the open-source ecosystem became more active around 2013 but seemed to decline in the past two years. As a result, the whole smartcard ecosystem might be negatively impacted by limited exposure to new ideas and usage scenarios, serving only well-established domains and potentially harming its long-term competitiveness.

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We would like to thank reviewers for their valuable comments. The authors were supported by Ai-SecTools (VJ02010010) project and by the European Union under Grant Agreement No. 101087529 (CHESS).

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Correspondence to Petr Svenda .

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1.1 JavaCard projects and certificates included in analysis

The following types of JavaCard open-source projects were included in the analysisFootnote 17: Electronic passports and citizen ID (\(8\)x), Authentication and access control (\(29\)x), Payments and loyalty (\(20\)x), Key and password managers (\(15\)x), Digital signing, OpenPGP and mail security (\(8\)x), e-Health (\(1\)x), NDEF tags (\(6\)x), Cryptocurrency wallets (\(7\)x), Emulation of proprietary cards (\(8\)x), Mobile telephony (SIM) (\(5\)x), Library JavaCard code (\(47\)x), Learning (school projects, etc.) (\(5\)x) and Other (\(24\)x).

Table 5. Common Criteria and FIPS140 certificates of smartcards with JavaCard platform used for algorithm analysis (mentioning at least one JavaCard constant).

The JavaCard version reference analysis included all certification documents from the dataset containing a match of the JavaCard API version using regular expressions (406 documents in total).

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Zaoral, L., Dufka, A., Svenda, P. (2024). The Adoption Rate of JavaCard Features by Certified Products and Open-Source Projects. In: Bhasin, S., Roche, T. (eds) Smart Card Research and Advanced Applications. CARDIS 2023. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 14530. Springer, Cham.

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  • Print ISBN: 978-3-031-54408-8

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