PKCS#15 (Public Key Cryptography Standards #15) is a Cryptographic Token Information Format Standard.
PKCS#15 defines a standard allowing users of cryptographic tokens or smart card to identify themselves to applications, independent of the application’s Cryptoki implementation (PKCS #11) or other API. RSA has relinquished IC-card-related parts of this standard to ISO/IEC 7816-15.
PKCS#15 and the more recent ISO/IEC 7816-15 standards describes a method of finding the files, objects and features of file based smart card and the specific content encoding of files representing PKCS#15 structures (ODF, PuKDF, PrKDF, CDF, AODF, SKDF etc). ISO/IEC 7816-4 describes a framework for implementing and using file based cards, but it does not describe how to discover which files, objects and features are contained on the personalized card.
Cryptographic tokens, such as Integrated Circuit Cards (IC cards or “smart cards”), are capable of providing a secure storage and computation environment for a wide range of user credentials such as keys, certificates and passwords. Because of this, it is widely recognized that they offer great potential for secure identification of users of information systems and electronic commerce applications.
The use of PKCS#15 tokens or smart cards for authentication and authorization purposes is hampered by the lack of interoperability at several levels. First, the industry lacks standards for storing a common format of digital credentials (keys, certificates, etc.) on them. This has made it difficult to create applications that can work with credentials from a variety of technology providers. Attempts to solve this problem in the application domain invariably increase costs for both development and maintenance. They also create a significant problem for end-users since credentials are tied to a particular application running against a particular application-programming interface to a particular hardware configuration.