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October 2008

Embedded smart card chips are open to hack attacks

Cracking Smart Cards Attackers "eavesdrop" on power output to steal crypto keys Smart cards are designed for security and convenience. The secure, multipurpose authentication they provide makes them an attractive option for controlling logical and physical access to businesses and governments. The embedded microchip smart grid technology is also an attractive target for hackers and pirates to commit fraud, theft and piracy. Most of the hacks and countermeasures focus on power analysis attacks, which are performed by attackers using digital oscilloscopes eavesdropping on the power use of transistors as embedded smart card microchips perform cryptographic operations. Simple power analysis (SPA) directly interprets power use to "see" individual bits, and can crack the cryptokeys in seconds. However, basic security practices easily thwart SPA. Differential power analysis (DPA) is the really serious threat. It applies statistical analysis across multiple power consumption measurements to overcome noise and countermeasures that ...

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    Information Security magazine's Security 7 Award winners write personal essays on topics ranging from perimeter security, information sharing, physical and logical security convergence and progress made in the industry.

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