Breaking Legacy Banking Standards with Special-Purpose Hardware

Tim Güneysu, Chris­tof Paar

Financial Cryptography and Data Security, 12th International Conference, FC 2008, Cozumel, Mexico, January 28-31, 2008


In the field of eCommerce, online-banking is one of the major application requiring the usage of modern cryptography to protect the confidentiality and integrity of financial transactions between users and the banking system. In banking applications of some countries, the authorization of user transactions is performed with support of cryptographic One-Time-Password (OTP) tokens implementing ANSI X9.9-based challenge-response protocols. The legacy ANSI X9.9 standard is a DES-based authentication method on which we will demonstrate an attack based on a special-purpose hardware cluster. In this work we show how to break such an OTP-token with little effort in terms of costs and time. With an investment of about US $ 10,000 we are able to perform an attack which computes the key of a DES-based OTP token in less than a week having only three challenge-response pairs. Our attack can even be scaled linearly according to the budget of the attacker resulting in even faster breaking times. With this work, we want to point out once more that the immediate migration from legacy products using the DES algorithm is absolutely mandatory for security critical applications.

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