Vulnerability Is Discovered in Security for Smart Cards

Monty Solomon monty at
Sun May 12 23:48:21 EDT 2002

May 13, 2002

Vulnerability Is Discovered in Security for Smart Cards

SAN FRANCISCO, May 12 - Two University of Cambridge computer security 
researchers plan to describe on Monday an ingenious and inexpensive 
attack that employs a $30 camera flashgun and a microscope to extract 
secret information contained in widely used smart cards.

The newly discovered vulnerability is reason for alarm, the 
researchers said, because it could make it cost-effective for a 
criminal to steal information from the cards.

Smart cards are used for dozens of different applications, including 
electronic identity protection, credit and debit cards and cellular 
phone payment and identity systems.

The Cambridge researchers said they had discussed their discovery 
with a number of card manufacturers, and several had acknowledged the 
vulnerability. One company reported that its security testing teams 
had already considered types of attacks similar to the one mounted by 
the Cambridge team and that they believed their products were not 


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