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Re: [Full-Disclosure] Clear text password exposure in Datakey's tokens and smartcards
From: "Kevin Sheldrake" <kev () electriccat co uk>
Date: Thu, 05 Aug 2004 11:39:18 +0100

Surely if the user is entering a passphrase then the same problem exists - that of effectively eavesdropping that communication from the keyboard?

Ignoring the initial expense for a moment, wouldn't it have made a lot of sense to include the keypad actually on the cards? Obviously, card readers would need to be contructed such that the keypad part of the card would be exposed during use. The keypad security could then rely on the tamper resistant properties of the rest of the card.

From a costs perspective, I would guess that the actual per-card cost increase would be minimal if hundreds of millions of these cards were produced.


Lionel Ferette wrote:

Note that this is true for almost all card readers on the market, not only for Datakey's. Having worked for companies using crypto smart cards, I have conducted a few risk analysis about that. The conclusion has always been that if the PIN must be entered from a PC, and the attacker has means to install software on the system (through directed viruses, social engineering, etc), the game's over. The only solution against that problem is to have the PIN entered using a keypad on the reader. Only then does the cost of an attack raise significantly. But that is opening another can of worms, because there is (was?) no standard for card readers with attached pin pad (at the time, PC/SCv2 wasn't finalised - is it?).

at least some cards are supporting des passphrases to implement secured communication channels but I suppose this feature is not that widely in use.... how many card owners are prepared to remember both PIN codes and passphrases...


Kevin Sheldrake MEng MIEE CEng CISSP
Electric Cat (Bournemouth) Ltd

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