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Wirelessly Pickpocketing a Mifare Classic Card

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4 Author(s)
Flavio D. Garcia ; Radboud Univ., Nijmegen, Netherlands ; Peter van Rossum ; Roel Verdult ; Ronny Wichers Schreur

The Mifare Classic is the most widely used contactless smartcard on the market. The stream cipher CRYPTO1 used by the classic has recently been reverse engineered and serious attacks have been proposed. The most serious of them retrieves a secret key in under a second. In order to clone a card, previously proposed attacks require that the adversary either has access to an eavesdropped communication session or executes a message-by-message man-in-the-middle attack between the victim and a legitimate reader. Although this is already disastrous from a cryptographic point of view, system integrators maintain that these attacks cannot be performed undetected.This paper proposes four attacks that can be executed by an adversary having only wireless access to just a card (and not to a legitimate reader). The most serious of them recovers a secret key in less than a second on ordinary hardware. Besides the cryptographic weaknesses, we exploit other weaknesses in the protocol stack. A vulnerability in the computation of parity bits allows an adversary to establish a side channel. Another vulnerability regarding nested authentications provides enough plaintext for a speedy known-plaintext attack.

Published in:

2009 30th IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy

Date of Conference:

17-20 May 2009