There are billions of devices needing authentication in the world today ranging from cell phones to household appliances to laptops to ID badges and beyond. And one thing most of them share is a smart card-based technology, says Benoit Jouffrey.
A world of securely connected devices In the telecom world, the Universal Integrated Circuit Card (UICC) identifies the device and user to the mobile network operator (MNO) and therefore ensures the integrity and security of all kinds of personal data.
The network authentication applications carried by the cards vary according to use case and wireless network technology, ranging from 2G to LTE to CDMA and everything in between. For instance, the USIM are used for GSM 2G/3G networks, CSIM for CDMA2000 networks and ISIM for IPmultimedia subsystems.
The variety and wide spread use of smart cards demonstrates the technology’s success, reliability and capacity to adapt to evolving networks and changing MNO needs. When machine-to-machine (M2M) technology came on the scene, it quickly became evident that a new SIM (subscriber identity module) card was needed to address the industry’s specific needs.
Subscribers and machines, a study in contrast
Machines and subscribers have vastly different needs! Where consumer devices are in homes, on planes, schools and generally kept close to pocket or bag, M2M solutions can be found in an array of harsh environments – outdoors in arctic pipelines (pictured) inside manufacturing facilities with uncontrolled temperatures, in trucks and automobiles and many more.
Components and parts for M2M solutions need to be ruggedised for extreme reliability over long lifespans. As such, a new smart card was needed designed for durability and severe conditions of temperature, vibration, humidity and corrosion. It needed to be miniaturised to fit and integrate easily into tiny spaces in machines and equipment, and it needed to be secured to defend against fraudulent use or tampering of the cards. In 2010, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI)defined a new standard specifically for M2M applications – the Machine-to-Machine Form Factor, or the MFF 1 , a smaller, solderable version of the UICC.
Leveraging this new ETSI standard, Gemalto developed and deployed a full range of M2M optimised SIM cards known as Machine Identification Modules or MIM TM cards. Designed in both solderable and plug-in formats, they use more robust chips combined with a specialised Operating System to ensure longevity and a more robust card body. And we didn’t stop there!
In July, Gemalto became the first ISO TS 16949 compliant SIM manufacturer offering unrivalled quality assurances and certified, traceable production processes. These first ISO TS 16949 products are automotive-grade MIM engineered for enhanced rugged road conditions and offering a 17-year lifespan and one billion erase/write cycles!
Remote control and service solutions, a winning combination
From a remote management standpoint, MIM cards offer the same characteristics as traditional SIMs: they can be configured and provisioned Over-TheAir (OTA) for Remote-File-Management (RFM) or Remote-Application-Management (RAM) purposes. For instance, MIMs can download, manage and upgrade OTA-specific applications such as an IMEI lock which is used to restrict use of an M2M application or device in specific countries and with network providers.
But once again, M2M technology solutions have specific requirements that go above and beyond what is expected of traditional connected devices. For instance, an M2M implementer or MNO might need to know at any given moment, the remaining lifespan of a dedicated MIM. This is particularly important for M2M applications such as automotive telematics that can be difficult to access and where component recalls can be extremely costly, even several hundred euros per vehicle.
To illustrate this point, consider the challenge of a lift operator who uses an M2M solution to remotely monitor elevators. Incorrect device implementation can lead to extraordinary writes on the MIM, which can lead to service failure. However, Gemalto’s client-server MIM services solution allows end users to detect inappropriate MIM usage and preempt service failure. Audit alerts or OTA campaigns, especially during the initial phases of device deployment, can help significantly improve quality of service and longevity of the solution.
With Gemalto’s service solution, you can easily track vital parameters of your device, getting accurate, up-to-the-moment data plus real-time alerts if issues arise regarding network coverage or battery life. By leveraging MIM capabilities and Gemalto’s service solutions, challenges like these are easily overcome and costly repairs averted which helps M2M players enhance quality-ofservice and return on investment (ROI).
The author is Benoit Jouffrey, vice president M2M Value Added Services at Gemalto
Subscription management evolution
In essence, the job of the MIM is to securely store authentication parameters and algorithms for a machine, just like a SIM does for a subscriber. But as the GSMA described in a white paper issued in February 2011 2 , M2M specificities are again leading to a number of new requests. Flexibility in subscription management has existed for quite some time and IMSI-swap or multi-IMSI cards are well known and widely used technologies. But, for instance, new standards are needed for downloading over-the-air the subscription of a connected device integrating a solderable MIM.
A number of industry organisations, such as ETSI, GSMA and the SIMalliance are actively working to define this new standard for the subscription management process without compromising the overall security of wireless networks. Gemalto is an active participant in these standardisation initiatives and has recently run numerous successful pilots and demonstrations dedicated to identifying and meeting our customers’ emerging needs.
Gemalto has more than 450 operator customers worldwide and has deployed hundreds of clientserver solutions with all types of business models and with hosted or in-house configurations. We are leveraging more than 15 years of Cinterion M2M expertise and knowledge and working closely with our customers and partners to identify needs and opportunities and to jointly define best practices and technologies for moving forward – it’s an exciting time in the industry!
Small is beautiful – durable, powerful, MIMs are the way forward for M2M
The small and powerful SIM card has proven its capabilities and reliability billions of times over since the technology emerged with the birth of GSM networks. Building on SIM card success, M2M optimised MIMs are helping to accelerate marketplace expansion and secure the growing Internet of Things.
The use of client-server solutions based on MIMs, the ‘M2M thin client’, can contribute to better quality of service and better diagnostic capabilities throughout the M2M ecosystem. In the end, the MIM is showing its capacity to adapt to evolving marketplace needs, offering much needed subscription management flexibility. Small is beautiful. When you think M2M, think MIM.