Professional safecrackers use a stethoscope to find the correct combination by listening to the clicks of the lock. Researchers at the Ruhr-University Bochum have now demonstrated how to bypass the security mechanisms of a widely used contactless smartcard in a similar way. Employing so-called “Side-Channel Analysis” the researchers of the Chair for Embedded Security (Prof. Dr.-Ing. Christof Paar) can break the cryptography of millions of cards that are used all around the world.
Measuring the electro-magnetic field
RFID smartcards (Radio Frequency Identification) of the type DESFire MF3ICD40 are widely employed in payment and access control systems. The security of these cards is based on Triple-DES, a cipher that is unbreakable from a purely mathematic point of view. DESFire cards are for instance used by the public transport agencies in Melbourne, San Francisco and Prague. The DESFire MF3ICD40 is manufactured by NXP, the former semiconductor division of Philips Electronics.
Fluctuations of the magnetic field
A person is identified as a passenger, employee or customer when his RFID smartcard is placed in the proximity of a reader. To guarantee the necessary level of security, a secret key is stored on the integrated chip inside the card. But just like for the safe, the security mechanism produces the electronic equivalent of the clicks of a mechanic lock. “We measured the power consumption of the chip during the encryption and decryption with a small probe”, says David Oswald. The fluctuations of the electro-magnetic field allow the researchers to conclude to the full 112-bit secret key of the smartcard.
Low cost, big damage
Having extracted the keys, an attacker can create an unlimited number of undetectable clones of a given card. The required time and effort are quite low: “For our measurements, we needed a DESFire MF3ICD40 card, an RFID reader, the probe and an oscilloscope to measure the power consumption”, says Oswald. This equipment only costs a few thousand euros. Having obtained knowledge on the characteristic properties of the smartcard, the attack takes three to seven hours. The manufacturer NXP confirmed the security hole in the meanwhile and recommends his customers to upgrade to a newer version of the card.
Already back in 2008, researchers around Prof. Dr.-Ing. Christof Paar used Side-Channel Analysis to break supposedly secure systems. Three years ago, garage and car doors “mysteriously” opened for the researchers of the Chair for Embedded Security. The employed KeeLoq RFID system – which customers and manufacturers trusted blindly before – turned out to be highly susceptible to Side-Channel Analysis.
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Christof Paar, Chair for Embedded Security, Building ID 2/607, Tel. +49 234 32 22994, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Josef König | idw
New software speeds origami structure designs
12.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology
Seeing the next dimension of computer chips
11.10.2017 | Osaka University
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences