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Hacker apologises to Infineon

Press release denounces Register story

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Well this is a Register first: Infineon has taken the trouble to issue a press release denouncing our story concerning a hack of Siemens' SLE44 microcontroller family used in Geldkartes. The least we can do is repay the compliment by publishing the release in full. First, we'd like to make the following points. Every now and then the hacker community lays into us for mixing up our hacks with our cracks. Now its Infineon's turn. Next time, we'll make sure that we're more precise with our hacking/cracking definitions. Our story was not meant to convey the meaning that the system was fatally compromised by a malicious perpetrator. But let's get this straight. A hacker (nice, cuddly geek) not cracker (malicious saboteur) did unmask some security aspects of the Siemens microcontroller family SLE44, and he did post the results on the Net. The hacker may be running a little scared, for Infineon now knows who he is, as the company's press release makes clear. "The supposed hacker is a student who programmed a free programmable card to analyse the chip behavior. He has apologized to Infineon Technologies and confirmed that the reports relating to his attempt at cracking the chip are not true. He had only tried to find out the functional principles of the chips." Now for that Infineon press release in full: Infineon Technologies reaffirms security of cashless payment chips Infineon Technologies rejects claims in the article published on the Internet by The Register that the Siemens microcontroller family SLE44 has been 'cracked'. These chips are used in 'Geldkarte' cards and digital signature smart cards. The Geldkarte scheme enables cashless transactions. According to The Register, a hacker had posted part of the coding structure on a bulletin board stating that unauthorized transactions were possible. This is not true. The posted data is in no way a threat to security. There has been no attempt to manipulate a "Geldkarte" or digital signature card. There is no risk to owners of "Geldkarte" cards and bank customers as mentioned in the article's analysis of the security functions of banking and digital signature cards. Furthermore, the security of chip card systems is always based on a combination of security functions on the chip and the background system (software). The published analysis refers solely to a free programmable card based on the SLE44 family. This analysis is neither relevant for nor transferable to other card applications or chip families. The supposed hacker is a student who programmed a free programmable card to analyse the chip behaviour. He has apologized to Infineon Technologies and confirmed that the reports relating to his attempt at cracking the chip are not true. He had only tried to find out the functional principles of the chips. Infineon Technologies (formerly Siemens' Semiconductor Group) has been producing chip card ICs for various applications since more than ten years. The security mechanisms of these chips are continually investigated by independent institutes for their suitability in high security applications –- eg. in banking and digital signature cards. About Infineon Technologies Infineon Technologies, Munich, Germany, formerly Siemens' Semiconductor Group, is the 10th largest semiconductor manufacturer world-wde according to Dataquest. Infineon provides semiconductor solutions for the telecommunications, automotive, data networking, consumer electronics, and industrial automation markets. The company's comprehensive product portfolio includes integrated system ICs, memory and high frequency components, security and chip card ICs, discrete semiconductors and power ICs, sensors and fiber optic components. Further information at http://www.infineon.com

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