Java Card was introduced in 1996 as a pioneering concept with a vision to enable smart cards to host multiple applications using Java technology—which at that point was just one year old. Fast forward to today, and with over 20 billion units deployed in the world, Java Card is the leading application platform for smart cards.
Java Card is the most popular technology for enabling certified security in end products directly involved in the day-to-day lives of billions of people—including banking cards, mobile payments, passports/ID cards, SIM cards, health insurance cards, and more. In fact, there’s a very good chance you’ve already used Java Card today.
The following diagram underscores the exponential growth and evolution of Java Card over the past 25+ years.
The Java Card technology is flexibly designed, which enables products beyond those mentioned above to make use of removable secure elements/cards, namely the newer Secure Element (SE) hardware form factors, like embedded (eSE) and integrated (iSE).
This is important, since SEs hosted in IoT edge devices are key security enablers for a variety of functions. These include the secure attestation of devices, their authentication for communication with peers or clouds, and the secure storage of credentials and certificates—as well as enabling secure payload collected from sensors directly attached to the SE to be processed in data analytics.
A contributor to Java Card’s success over the past 25 years has been the strong alignment of the technology with standardization in relevant markets, including ETSI/3GPP, GSMA, EMVCo, and GlobalPlatform. Another driver of the growth of Java Card-based implementations is validation from the most relevant security certification schemes, including Common Criteria, FIPS, EMVCo, and more.
However, arguably the most important contributor to Java Card’s evolution has been the Java Card Forum (JCF), which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The JCF was formed shortly after the initial release of Java Card as “a collaboration of companies from the smart card, secure operating system, and secure silicon industry, working together to promote and develop Java as the preferred language for multi-application smart cards and secure devices.”
The JCF provides the Java Card community with a centralized hub for education on relevant Java Card use cases, trends in the industry, upcoming events and conferences, and resources such as infographics, webinars, and whitepapers.
Oracle (and previously Sun Microsystems) has been involved in the JCF for its entire 25-year existence, and has played a key role in the JCF’s contribution to the growth of Java Card. We couldn’t be prouder of Java Card’s success, and we want to take this opportunity to wish a very happy 25th birthday to the JCF!
In the context of growing demand for certified security in the increasing connected world, the future of the proven Java Card technology is very bright.