Best practices for card formatting

When formatting project cards, you need to consider a few organizational aspects upfront. To make things a little easier, we've collected our best-practice approaches below. They cover the following scenarios:

Formatting new blank cards

Scenario: So far, no cards have been used in the organization, so you need to introduce them together with the initial application (e.g. access control).

Define all potential applications

Even if the cards will initially be used for 1 application only, we recommend you already define potential future applications upfront (e.g. canteen payment, secure login, etc.). Then, we make sure that the required application data is included in the card structure when we create your job file. This saves you the hassle of reformatting issued cards when implementing an additional application later.

BALTECH standard card structure

This applies to MIFARE DESFire cards only.

If you don't have any special requirements regarding the card structure, we recommend you order a job file with the BALTECH standard card structure. It covers many common applications and follows security best-practices:

Each application is assigned a unique project key. This means:

  • Each application provider only needs to know the project key for their application.
  • If a key is compromised, the security of all other applications remains unaffacted.
  • It's easier to narrow down who is responsible for a compromised key.

Reformatting existing cards

Scenario: The cards are already used for a certain application (e.g. access control). Now, you want to use them for an additional application (e.g. canteen payment), but first, the required application data needs to be added to the card structure.

Reformatting workflow

There are 2 options of applying the new application data:

  • Cards are reformatted manually. In this case, we create a job file that contains the new application data. Using the job file and Card Formatter Tool, you format the cards on site. We recommend you do so in a secure environment, e.g. the HR office, and have all employees come by in person with their cards.

  • Cards are reformatted automatically by the productive readers used for the new application. If e.g. the new application is canteen payment, the reader integrated in the top-up kiosk applies the card structure when a user inserts their card for the first time.

    For this option, you can neither use BALTECH Card Formatter nor a job file from us. You'll have to control the reader with a custom software and apply the card structure using VHL.formatcall_made. If you use the Autoread operation mode, this is not possible by default. However, we can offer you a custom solution on request.

Formatting new cards later on

When new cards are issued later, e.g. for new employees, you have 2 options:

  • Keep the reformatting workflow. This is typically the way to go if you purchase new cards with the card structure for the initial application already applied.

  • Do the entire formatting in 1 step. This is recommended if you purchase new cards without a pre-applied card structure. In this case, you can order an additional job file that applies not only the new application data, but the entire card structure for all applications.