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It appears there is more than just flash memory on Smartcards.

Presumably there is also some sort of microprocessor.

So then along comes this article:

Crippling crypto weakness opens millions of smartcards to cloning

Excerpt:

Millions of smartcards in use by banks and large corporations for more than a decade have been found to be vulnerable to a crippling cryptographic attack. That vulnerability allows hackers to bypass a wide range of protections, including data encryption and two-factor authentication.

The critical vulnerability, which researchers disclosed last week, allows attackers to derive the private portion of any vulnerable key using nothing more than the corresponding public portion.

The so-called factorization attack can be completed in minutes or days, and the price can range from nothing, depending on the key size and type of computer an attacker uses, to $20,000.

The vulnerability stems from a widely deployed library developed by German chipmaker Infineon, which in turn sells its hardware and software to third-party smartcard and device manufacturers.

The defect has now been confirmed to affect the first line of Gemalto IDPrime.NET smartcards.

The cards have been on the market since 2004 at the latest, when Gemalto predecessor Axalto announced Microsoft employees were using the card to secure access to the software maker's network, by, among other things, providing two-factor authentication to company employees worldwide. During the 12 years the cards are known to have been in use, Netherlands-based Gemalto has shipped cards numbering in the millions or even the tens or hundreds of millions.

The question is in the title: How does a Smartcard work?

marked as duplicate by julian, perror, Community Oct 24 '17 at 19:32

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    Smart card technology conforms to international standards (ISO/IEC 7816 and ISO/IEC 14443) and is available in a variety of form factors, including plastic cards, fobs, subscriber identity modules (SIMs) used in GSM mobile phones, and USB-based tokens - smartcardalliance.org/smart-cards-intro-primer – julian Oct 24 '17 at 2:07
  • So they work the same? – SDsolar Oct 24 '17 at 4:52
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    The subscriber identity modules used in mobile-phone systems are reduced-size smart cards, using otherwise identical technologies. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_card#SIM – julian Oct 24 '17 at 4:59
  • According this, the flaw in smartcards is dire enough that Estonia is suspending their use entirely: arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/11/… - no word on whether they are also banning SIM cards. – SDsolar Nov 7 '17 at 3:46
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According to the Smartcard Alliance, Smartcards are functionally identical to SIM cards as used in cellphones and tablets, as described here:

Smart Card Primer (smartcardalliance.org)

Excerpt:

A smart card is a device that includes an embedded integrated circuit chip (ICC) that can be either a secure microcontroller or equivalent intelligence with internal memory or a memory chip alone. The card connects to a reader with direct physical contact or with a remote contactless radio frequency interface. With an embedded microcontroller, smart cards have the unique ability to store large amounts of data, carry out their own on-card functions (e.g., encryption and mutual authentication) and interact intelligently with a smart card reader. Smart card technology conforms to international standards (ISO/IEC 7816 and ISO/IEC 14443) and is available in a variety of form factors, including plastic cards, fobs, subscriber identity modules (SIMs) used in GSM mobile phones, and USB-based tokens.

As @SYS_V rightfully pointed out, the answer is given in depth here:

How does a SIM card work?

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