Washington: A team of researchers has come up with a new type of radio frequency identification (RFID) chip that is virtually impossible to hack, securing credit cards, key cards and pallets of goods in warehouses.
Researchers at MIT and Texas Instruments have built several prototypes of the new chip, to the researchers’ specifications, and in experiments the chips have behaved as expected.
According to first author Chiraag Juvekar, the chip is designed to prevent so-called side-channel attacks. Side-channel attacks analyze patterns of memory access or fluctuations in power usage when a device is performing a cryptographic operation, in order to extract its cryptographic key.
Juvekar noted that the idea in a side-channel attack is that a given execution of the cryptographic algorithm only leaks a slight amount of information and so one needs to execute the cryptographic algorithm with the same secret many, many times to get enough leakage to extract a complete secret.
One way to thwart side-channel attacks is to regularly change secret keys. In that case, the RFID chip would run a random-number generator that would spit out a new secret key after each transaction. A central server would run the same generator, and every time an RFID scanner queried the tag, it would relay the results to the server, to see if the current key was valid.
The researchers presented their research at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference, in San Francisco. (ANI)