Smart cards also open to attack

Tuesday, 19 November 2002, 11:35 AM EST

Sydney University engineering student Ryan Junee has demonstrated a smart card attack for his final year thesis, using a method called "differential power analysis".

Using software he developed and a cathode ray oscilloscope (CRO), Mr Junee showed that cards using Data Encryption Standard (DES), or even triple-DES, could be interrogated to reveal secret information such as keys and PINs.

The method determines the calculations being carried out on the chip by observing the card's power usage. It requires observation of the card carrying out 200 processes, which takes about nine hours.

Another method, called inferential power analysis, can extract information from a secure card in a single application.

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