Tag Archives: Testing

How to do a quick and dirty benchmark on a smart card

So you have to make a decision on which smart card or crypto token you’re going to use on a given project, there are lots of things to consider including price, platform support, certifications, build and software quality, number of certificates and keys it can hold, what algorithms and key sizes it implements amongst numerous others.

But even with those things well understood you need to understand the performance characteristics of the device, the two most common operations your users will likely be doing in an authentication deployment is sign and certificate requests.

Thankfully in Windows it’s fairly easy for us to get an idea of how these operations will perform for users with just a little bit of PowerShell.

In both cases we will use the measure_runs script that can be found here.

Measuring Signing Performance

To do this we will use the support PowerShell has for Code Signing, first thing is you need a code signing certificate whose key is on your smart card; I won’t include how to create one in this post but if you need help just ping me on twitter (@rmhrisk).

1. Make sure you have at least one code signing certificate by running this command:

gci cert:\CurrentUser\My –CodeSigningCert


Assuming you do you should see something like this:


Thumbprint Subject

———- ——-

EEB2729E922E72E9DCC03000129795939F194358 CN=PowerShell User


2. Make sure you can sign with that certificate:

$cert = @(gci cert:\currentuser\my -CodeSigningCert)[0]; Set-AuthenticodeSignature measure_runs.ps1 $cert


If things work you will see something like this:

SignerCertificate Status Path

—————– —— —-

EEB2729E922E72E9DCC03000129795939F194358 Valid measure_run..


3. Sign 100 times averaging the results:

.\measure_runs.ps1 -numberRuns 100 -run { Set-AuthenticodeSignature measure_runs.ps1 $cert} -before {$cert = @(gci cert:\currentuser\my -CodeSigningCert)[0]}


If things work you will see something like this:

[ 1 / 100] (Preparing… ) Running… 0.1874 seconds

[ 2 / 100] (Preparing… ) Running… 0.1700 seconds

[ 3 / 100] (Preparing… ) Running… 0.1316 seconds

[ 4 / 100] (Preparing… ) Running… 0.1426 seconds

[ 5 / 100] (Preparing… ) Running… 0.1468 seconds





A few things to keep in mind, you will have been prompted for a pin once in this exercise, why once? Because Windows is caching the handle to the card for the PowerShell process this means anything in the context of that PowerShell session will be able to sign with the key unless you pull the token.

Measuring Certificate Request Generation

To do this we will use a script that generates a self-signed certificate I stumbled on while searching the internet you can find it here (http://poshcode.org/1793), you will need to modify this to refer to the appropriate CSP/KSP for your smart card so we are testing the right device/software.

While a self-signed certificate isn’t exactly a Certificate Request to create both generate a key pair and sign a message so it’s a going to be representative of the CSR generation time also.

To do this test run this command:

.\measure_runs.ps1 -numberRuns 10 -run { .\createselfsigned.ps1}


If things work you will see something like this:

[ 1 / 100] Running… 11.9023 seconds

[ 2 / 100] Running… 9.8994 seconds

[ 3 / 100] Running… 9.9996 seconds

[ 4 / 100] Running… 10.7412 seconds

[ 5 / 100] Running… 8.9172 seconds





Hope this helps you, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask.