Electronic Team, Inc. uses cookies to personalize your experience on our website. By continuing to use this site, you agree to our cookie policy. Click here to learn more.

How to Get Remote Smart Card Reader Access

Olga Weis Olga Weis Aug 6, 2023

In this article, we explain techniques for sharing remote smart card reader access over a network. We’ll look at solving issues like your smart card reader not working, proper use of smart card reader remote desktop options, as well as a remote desktop smart card reader (AKA smart card reader over RDP) and smart card over LAN tips.

How to use a smart card reader using a remote desktop is among the most commonly requested user issues. However, the session gets diverted to a client machine when users join via RDP smart card passthrough, making the card reader linked via RDSH invisible. Consequently, many people are now interested in finding solutions to the problem of using a smart card reader via LAN.

How to Get Access to Smart Card Reader Over RDP Sessions

Due to the issues users experience with remote desk card reading, USB Network Gate was developed to solve this problem.

Oftentimes, when you connect to your RDP sessions, any USB device plugged into your computer at the moment becomes accessible. Using the steps below, you can seamlessly access your USB devices over RDP:

  1. First, install USB Network Gate on your server and client computer.

    Note: Server Computer = The “local” computer physically connected to the USB Device

    Client Computer = The “remote” computer you want to use remotely to access the USB device

  2. After installing on the “server/local” machine, set USB Network Gate to share USB devices to the RDP session.
  3. Additionally, once USB Network Gate gets installed on the “client/remote” machine, configure the client computer so that it can access any USB drives that you have chosen to share over the RDP session. USB Network Gate

How To Access Smart Card Reader Over Network

Now that you're aware of how to use a smart card reader using a remote desktop, let's discuss smart card readers connected through LAN/WAN networks.

You can now use your USB gadgets' full capabilities with ease! In addition to working with a remote Smart Card Reader over the network, USB Network Gate enables you to access a network card reader from an RDP. Below are the actions you have to perform to achieve this.

Download and install USB Network Gate, cross-platform software for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Although this software must be purchased, a 14-day free trial is also offered.

Part 1:

Once installed, you can configure USB Network Gate using the following steps:

  1. Run it on the server machine after installation. This should be performed on the computer your smart card is physically connected to.
  2. Run it on the client's computer after installation. This should also be performed on the computer accessing the smart card remotely.
  3. When the installation is finished, the USB Network Gate application will be shown in two tabs.
  4. Once the setup is complete on both devices, you can start using your local smart card.

Note: You can either encrypt the data transfer or add encryption to your connection if a port change is necessary. Simply select the “gearwheel” icon next to the “share” option from there.

Part 2:

If you access a smart card reader remote desktop over the internet, an external IP address is usually required.

  1. Navigate to the “Share Local USB Devices” tab
  2. Locate your USB device in the list that appears
  3. Select “Share”

After clicking “Share”, your network smart card will become accessible to the remote desktop session sharing the network.

Smart Card Reader in virtual machine

Not only can you access remote smart card readers over network connections like Ethernet or Internet. A virtual machine’s USB ports are limited. But, if you’re out of free ports, USB Network Gate lets you use a host computer’s USB ports instead. So no more trying to decide which USBs take priority over others.

Smart card readers are classified as a USB device by virtual machines. USB Network Gate also permits smart card USB device access using a virtual machine.
Follow The Steps Below:

  1. Download and install the Windows/Linux version of USB Network Gate on the server (physical/local) computer
  2. Download and install the Windows/Linux version of USB Network Gate on the client (remote/virtual machine) computer
  3. Enable sharing from the server computer
  4. On the client computer, connect to the shared device
  5. Ensure you’ve established connection between the local and virtual machine

A shared USB device should appear in your virtual machine’s “Device Manager” tab. Now, accessing your USB device from your virtual machine feels like it's plugged physically into the remote computer you're working from.

VMware smart card reader access - native solution

It’s possible to select smart card readers from a VMs “Removable Devices” menu. Smart cards are sharable with a virtual machine, or between a host computer and one (or more) virtual machines. This sharing capability is enabled by default.

VMware smart card reader

In “Workstation Pro”, your smart card reader will display as two seperate USB devices once plugged in. Smart cards can run in two mutually exclusive modes, so that’s why it will appear as two devices.

Smart Cards: Shared Mode

(Recommended) In the “Removable Disks” menu, your available smart card device is shared as “smart_card_reader_model”.
After connecting to a virtual machine, a shared reader displays as “USB Smart Card Reader” on a Windows XP “Guest” operating system.
Guest versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7 will see their smart card reader in their “Windows Device Manager”. The smart card is sharable with applications on both host machines and different guest operating systems.

Smart Cards: USB Passthrough Mode

As before: in the “Removable Disks” menu, your available smart card device is shared as “smart_card_reader_model”. Unlike before, USB Passthrough mode allows a single virtual machine direct control of a physical smart card reader.

You can’t use a USB Passthrough smart card with applications on host computers or other virtual machines. USB Passthrough mode should only be used if your specific scenario makes connections using “Shared” mode ineffective.

There’s a chance that you’ll have to install the manufacturer’s provided driver if you want to use USB Passthrough mode.

Smart cards are compatible with all Windows operating systems, as well as most distributions of Linux.

If you use a Windows virtual machine that runs a Linux host, VMware provides complete support for smart cards.

Smart cards on Linux OS usually require 3rd-Party software for domain authentication; as well as secure communication capabilities.

Why is Remote Desktop Smart Card Redirection Not Working?

Accessing sensitive data from a distance can become simple and secure with the help of Remote Desktop Smart Card Redirection. However, the “RDP smart card not working” issue might be due to some improper configuration.

A typical explanation for this is the misconfiguration of the Remote Desktop client or server settings. Another potential problem can also be due to outdated or incompatible smart card reader drivers. Redirections may also be unsuccessful if the smart card is not correctly inserted or is incompatible with the Remote Desktop connection.

Problems with Remote Desktop Smart Card Redirection can be solved by examining these components, making sure they are compatible, and ensuring proper configuration.

Smart Card Authentication Issue with Remote Desktop

Your Post Smart Card Authentication might fail when you attempt to connect using Windows 10 Remote Desktop. When attempting to use smart card authentication after installing or updating a remote desktop smart card reader on your remote desktop, you may come across an error message that says "Your credentials did not work".

To override this error, you need to create a new set of login details. This includes inputting the old login information and a new set of login details. Now, this error often occurs when you connect your device to an untrusted domain with a remote desktop.

VirtualBox Smart Card Reader access not working

A situation may arise where your VirtualBox virtual machine can’t recognize your smart card’s certificates. Not to worry, because there is a solution.

VirtualBox Smart Card Reader

The steps below explain how you can configure your smart card reader to work with VirtualBox USB card reader on Windows 10:

  1. Disable/ Turn Off Your Virtual Machine (VM)
  2. Assure your smart card reader is connected
  3. Navigate to your VM’s VirtualBox “Settings” tab
  4. Go To: “Ports”
  5. Then Go To: “USB”
  6. Confirm “Enable USB Controller” box is checked
  7. Located to the right-hand side of the “USB Device Filters”, click the USB icon with the “+” beside it. (A list should then pop-up with all “attached devices” on it)
  8. Find your smart card reader in the list
    Add a new USB filter (default configurations are okay, so leave them as is)
  9. Once you hit “OK”, the card reader is added to the USB device filters list
  10. Close the “Settings” tab
  11. Turn your VM back on
  12. Navigate to “Windows Device Manager”. You should now see entries for “smart card readers” and “smart cards” listed

    Note: Smart cards should NOT be in the “Universal Serial Bus Controllers” list.

  13. Click the “expand” icon for the “Smart card readers” node
  14. Right-click the node, itself
  15. In the context menu: select “update driver”
  16. Follow the prompts for updating driver(s)
  17. Once fully updated, your specific smart card will appear in the “Windows Device Manager” list in place of a generic entry

***Repeat steps 15 through 19 using the “Smart cards” node instead of the “Smart card readers” node***

  1. Open the certificates doc again and enter a digital signature. Now the PDF reader should reflect the certificates relevant to your smart card.
  2. Select the appropriate certificate from the list.
  3. Once prompted, enter your smart card’s PIN number.
  4. Save as a “new document”


In general, USB Network Gate is a simple and reliable solution to the remote smart card access issue. The USB Network Gate provides a quick and easy way to access a smart card from a distance. The smart card can get shared across the network as if it were physically connected to both computers by installing USB Network Gate on both the local and remote computers.

By doing so, the remote machine can access the smart card and utilize its features exactly like it would if it were physically attached. What’s more, sensitive data is safeguarded during remote access thanks to USB Network Gate's strong encryption.

small logo USB Network Gate
#1 at Networking Software
USB Network Gate
Share USB over Ethernet on Windows
4.7 rank based on 372 + users
Get a download link for your desktop
Submit your email address to get a link for quick download on your desktop and get started!
Also Available: USB Network Gate is a cross-platform solution compatible with Mac, Linux and Android OSes:

UNG for Mac

UNG for Linux

UNG for Android