Nitrokey HSM 2: Failed to connect to card

We have a couple of Nitrokey HSM 2 devices. When we attempt to use any opensc tool, we receive the following error:

Pkcs15-tool -D returns:
Using reader with a card: Nitrokey Nitrokey HSM (DENK…
Failed to connect to card: Card is invalid or cannot be handled

The dmesg tool identifies the device when we plug it in and provides the product string “Product: Nitrokey HSM.” Our user account has access to USB devices.

We are running Ubuntu 16.04 with the following tool versions (from apt):

  1. opensc 0.15.0-1ubuntu1 amd64
  2. opensc-pkcs11 0.15.0-1ubuntu1 amd64
  3. pcsc-tools is 1.4.25-1 amd64

Are there any other tips, hints, or tricks to try?

I believe your OpenSC 0.15 is too old. We provide updated OpenSC packages for Ubuntu here.

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You were correct. Thanks!

Hey jan, another quick question. I wrote to the support group about obtaining the SmartCard-HSM SDK. I read here that the SDK would be provided on request.

Is it true that the support team can provide me with a copy of the SDK?


Great! Thanks. I sent an email directly to I’ll await a response.

I wrote an email over one month ago already asking for the SDK but did not receive an answer by now. Are there any special pre-requisites I need to provide to obtain the SDK that I might not have considered before asking?

Hi @daubsi!

Please register to the CardContact Developer Network (CDN) and download the SDK from there. More information on the HSM vendor’s support page.

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We do no longer provide a SDK, but make all the artifacts available in a GIT repository at the CDN. You need to register at the PKI-as-a-Service Portal to obtain a X.509 certificate, from which the key can be used to authenticate via ssh+git.

The following repos are available

  • scsh-mods - the modules from the scsh directory of a Smart Card Shell installation
  • sc-hsm-sdk-scripts - the example scripts and test suites from the scripting workspace
  • pki-as-a-service - the PKI-as-a-Service portal
  • ocf - the OpenCard Framework (a Java card middleware)
  • scdp4j - the JavaScript GP scripting framework
  • scsh3 - the Smart Card Shell
  • scriptingserver - the OpenSCDP scripting server
  • sc-hsm-jceprovider - The Java JCE Provider for the SmartCard-HSM
  • sc-hsm-pgp - A PGP implementation for the SmartCard-HSM
  • sc-hsm-android-example - an Android example application to access a SmartCard-HSM via USB, NFC or as MicroSD card with embedded SE
  • sc-hsm-android-library - A library with the requires low level common modules for Android

You can obtain a list of repositories when you connect via


The scripting workspace is available as part of the sc-hsm-starterkit.