Bringing Advanced Security Services to the web

January 12, 2017 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
GlobalPlatform has defined a standardized communications interface between web applications and secure element (SEs), which will enable developers of web services to build in advanced security features to protect online services against many types of attack and fraud.

By allowing web services to utilize a dedicated tamper resistant piece of hardware within a device, known as a SE, the newly released Web API for Accessing Secure Elements v1.0 enables sensitive data from online applications to be securely stored and processed in a secure, isolated environment. By doing so, it enables web services to address multiple use cases that are central to the deployment of value added services:

  • Authentication – access to an online service may be protected by a strong authentication mechanism based on credentials stored and processed within a SE.
  • Digital signatures – web applications may use a digital signature to digitally sign a document or data with a key stored in the SE.
  • Payment – when online commerce transactions are made via a mobile device, the payment application may be hosted on the SE within a device, to enforce the security of the online transaction. This may alleviate the need for the user to handle multiple physical devices (e.g. a mobile device plus a payment card).
  • Credential provisioning – a web service may update the content of the SE to install, update or remove an application or credential it may hold. For example, a public transport app may credit a user’s NFC-enabled transport card or mobile device with tickets bought online. The tickets would be stored securely in the SE, ensuring access only to authorized parties.

By extending the benefits of GlobalPlatform’s secure, standardized infrastructure to web services for the first time, Web API for Accessing Secure Elements v1.0 presents web app developers with advanced security options which may help them to overcome multiple security challenges presented by the increasing connectivity of mobile devices. The new API enables web-based applications to access SEs of any form factor, including UICC or eUICC, embedded SEs and smart micro SD cards.