Feeds

Research signals safer smart cards

New class of attacks

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Cryptography Research Inc, the company behind the design of the SSL v3.0 protocol that is used to secure transactions on the world wide web, claims to have discovered a new class of attacks that could be used by hackers to extract secret keys and information from smart cards and secure cryptographic tokens.

Known as Differential Power Analysis (DPA), the San Francisco, California-based company says it could be a serious issue affecting smart cards and many other supposedly tamper-resistant hardware devices.

DPA is said to exploit characteristic behaviors of transistor logic gates and software running on many of today's smart cards. DPA eavesdrops on the fluctuating electrical power consumption of the microprocessors at the heart of these devices. An attack is performed by monitoring electrical activity and then applying statistical methods to determine secret information, such as secret keys and user PINs that are held on the device. Current generation smart cards are said to be especially vulnerable because of their small size and minimal shielding.

Although DPA attacks require a high level of technical skill in several fields to implement, they can be performed using a few thousand dollars of standard equipment. CRI maintains that once perfected, the technique can be used to break a device in a few hours or less. DPA attacks can then be automated.

Unsurprisingly, the company claims to be one step ahead with a workstation system that will defend against this new class of attacks by testing power-related security vulnerabilities. Cryptography Research provides a variety of design and research services to Visa International, Mondex, Netscape, Microsoft and Intuit.

The market for smart cards surged in the six months ending June 2002, with shipments to the US and Canada exceeding 31 million cards, more than double that for the year-ago period.

© ComputerWire

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
Carders punch holes through Staples
Investigation launched into East Coast stores
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.