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Banking smart cards vulnerable to cryptographic attack

Security researchers have warned that millions of smartcards used by banks in credit and debit cards are vulnerable a cryptographic attack called Roca.

Last week, researchers confirmed that RSA cryptographic keys for devices such as smart cards, security tokens and devices using hardware developed by Infineon Technologies are vulnerable to attack.

Now it’s been revealed that many Gemalto smartcards are capable of being cloned by skilled cyber criminals, enabling them to bypass security protections, such as data encryption and two-factor authentication.

Cyber crooks are able to access the private part of these keys by tapping into the public counterpart, and this process can be conducted within just a few minutes.

German chipmaker Infineon sells its products to third-party hardware companies, and Gemalto’s range of IDPrime.Net smartcards have been affected. Launched in 2004, millions of the cards have been shipped worldwide.

Gemalto confirmed the news in a statement to Computing. The company tried to downplay the problem, saying it’s already working on a solution to keep the attack under control.

“There has been a recent disclosure of a potential security vulnerability affecting the Infineon software cryptographic library also known as ROCA (CVE-2017-15361,” told Computing

“The alleged issue is linked to the RSA on-board key generation function being part of a library optionally bundled with the chip by this silicon manufacturer. Infineon have stated that the chip hardware itself is not affected.

“As Gemalto sources certain products from Infineon, we have assessed our entire product portfolio to identify those which are based on the affected software.”

The company said the attack only affects a “limited” number of products, including IDPrime.Net smartcards. “It is standard practice that Gemalto’s products use our in-house cryptographic libraries, developed by our internal RD teams and experts in cryptography.

“In the vast majority of cases, the crypto libraries developed by the chip manufacturer are not included in our products. We can confirm that products containing Gemalto’s crypto libraries are immune to the attack.”

An academic study that details the research, entitled The Return of Coppersmith’s Attack: Practical Factorization of Widely Used RSA Moduli, will be published on 2 November.

Dan Cvrcek, one of the ROCA researchers, said:  “We have reasonable grounds to believe that all Gemalto IDPrime .NET smart cards generate weak RSA keys vulnerable to the recently published ROCA vulnerability (CVE-2017-15361, VU#307015).

“Gemalto stopped selling these cards in September 2017, but there are large numbers of cards still in use in corporate environments. Their primary use is in enterprise PKI systems for secure email, VPN access, and so on.

“The ROCA vulnerability does not seem to affect Gemalto IDPrime MD cards. We have also NO reason to suspect the ROCA vulnerability to affect Protiva PIV smart cards, although we couldn’t test any of these.

“We have collected a number of reports of weak keys generated by cards manufactured between 2008 and 2017 over this week. All reports so far confirm RSA keys affected by the ROCA vulnerability.”


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