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Human Limitations in Strong Passwords Creation

Digital image showing a confused user at a computer surrounded by complex password symbols

How to Create Strong Passwords Despite Human Limitations

Human Limitations in Strong Passwords are crucial in safeguarding our personal and professional data online. But do you know how to craft a robust password capable of thwarting hacking attempts? In this article, we delve into the impact of human factors on password security. Furthermore, you will gain insights on overcoming these limitations and creating formidable passwords.

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Human Limitations in Strong Passwords Creation

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For comprehensive threat assessments and innovative solutions, delve into “Human Limitations in Strong Passwords.” Stay informed by exploring our constantly updated topics..

Human Limitations in Strong Passwords,” authored by Jacques Gascuel, the visionary behind cutting-edge sensitive data security and safety systems, offers invaluable insights into the field of human-created password security. Are you ready to improve your understanding of password protection?

Human Limitations in Strong Passwords: Cybersecurity’s Weak Link

Passwords are essential for protecting our data on the Internet. But creating a strong password is not easy. It requires a balance between security and usability. In this article, we will explain what entropy is and how it measures the strength of a password. We will also explore the limitations and problems associated with human password creation. We will show that these factors reduce entropy and password security, exposing users to cyber attacks. We will also provide some strategies and tips to help users create stronger passwords.

What is Entropy and How Does it Measure Password Strength?

Entropy is a concept borrowed from information theory. It measures the unpredictability and randomness of a system. The higher the entropy, the more disordered the system is, and the harder it is to predict.

In the context of passwords, entropy measures how many attempts it would take to guess a password through brute force. In other words, entropy measures the difficulty of cracking a password. The higher the entropy, the stronger the password is, and the harder it is to crack.

However, entropy is not a fixed value, but a relative measure that depends on various factors, such as the length, composition, frequency, and popularity of the password. We will explain these factors in more detail later.

How Do Cognitive Biases Influence Password Creation?

Cognitive Biases in Password Creation

Cognitive biases, such as confirmation bias and anchoring bias, significantly influence how users create passwords. Understanding “Human Limitations in Strong Passwords” is essential to recognize and overcome these biases for better password security.

Cognitive biases are reasoning or judgment errors that affect how humans perceive and process information. They are often the result of heuristics, mental shortcuts used to simplify decision-making. These biases can have adaptive advantages but also lead to errors or distortions of reality.

In password creation, cognitive biases can influence user choices, leading to passwords that make sense to them, linked to their personal life, culture, environment, etc. These passwords are often predictable, following logical or mnemonic patterns, reducing entropy.

For example, humans are subject to confirmation bias, thinking their password is strong enough because it meets basic criteria like length or composition, without considering other factors like character frequency or diversity.

They are also prone to anchoring bias, choosing passwords based on personal information like names, birthdates, pets, etc., not realizing this information is easily accessible or guessable by hackers.

Availability bias leads to underestimating cyber attack risks because they haven’t been victims or witnesses of hacking, or they think their data isn’t interesting to hackers.

Human Factors in Strong Password Development: Cognitive Biases

Strategies to Overcome Cognitive Biases

To mitigate the impact of cognitive biases, consider adopting better password practices:

  • Utilize a different password for each service, especially for sensitive or critical accounts, such as email, banking, or social media.
  • Employ a password manager, which is a software or application that securely stores and generates passwords for each service. Password managers can assist users in creating and recalling strong, random passwords, all while maintaining security and convenience.
  • Implement two-factor authentication, a security feature that necessitates users to provide an additional verification method, such as a code sent to their phone or email, or a biometric scan, in order to access their accounts. Two-factor authentication can effectively thwart hackers from gaining access to accounts, even if they possess the password.
  • Regularly update passwords, but refrain from doing so excessively, in order to prevent compromise by hackers or data breaches. Users should change their passwords when they suspect or confirm a breach or when they detect suspicious activity on their accounts. It’s also advisable for users to avoid changing their passwords too frequently, as this can lead to weaker passwords or password reuse.

Addressing Human Challenges in Secure Password Creation with Freemindtronic’s Advanced Technologies

Understanding Human Constraints in Robust Password Generation

The process of creating strong passwords often clashes with human limitations. Freemindtronic’s EviPass NFC HSM and EviPass HSM PGP technologies, integral to the PassCypher range, acknowledge these human factors in strong password development. By automating the creation process and utilizing Shannon’s entropy model, these technologies effectively mitigate the cognitive biases that typically hinder the creation of secure passwords.

Password Security and the Fight Against Cyber Attacks

In the context of increasing cyber threats, the security of passwords becomes paramount. Freemindtronic’s solutions offer a robust defense against cyber attacks by generating passwords that exceed conventional security standards. This approach not only addresses the human challenges in creating strong passwords but also fortifies the digital identity protection of users.

Leveraging Entropy in Passwords for Enhanced Security

The concept of entropy in passwords is central to Freemindtronic’s technology. By harnessing advanced entropy models, these systems ensure a high level of randomness and complexity in password creation, significantly elevating password security. This technical sophistication is crucial in overcoming human limitations in generating secure passwords.

Cognitive Biases in Passwords: Simplifying User Experience

Freemindtronic’s technologies also focus on the human aspect of password usage. By reducing the cognitive load through features like auto-fill and passwordless access, these systems address common cognitive biases. This user-friendly approach not only enhances the ease of use but also contributes to the overall strategy for strong password management.

Adopting Strong Password Strategies for Digital Identity Protection

Incorporating strong password strategies is essential in safeguarding digital identities. Freemindtronic’s technologies empower users to adopt robust password practices effortlessly, thereby enhancing digital identity protection. This is achieved through the generation of complex passwords and the elimination of the need for manual password management.

Elevating Password Security in the Digital Age

Freemindtronic’s EviPass NFC HSM and EviPass HSM PGP technologies are at the forefront of addressing human limitations in strong password creation. By integrating advanced entropy in passwords, focusing on user-centric design, and combating the risks of cyber attacks, these technologies are setting new benchmarks in password security and digital identity protection. Their innovative approach not only acknowledges but also effectively overcomes the human challenges in secure password creation, marking a significant advancement in the field of digital security.

Human Constraints in Robust Password Generation

There are various methods to help users create strong, memorable passwords. These methods have pros and cons, which should be understood to choose the most suitable for one’s needs.

Mnemonic Passwords: Balancing Memory and Security

Mnemonic passwords are based on phrases or acronyms, serving as memory aids. For example, using the phrase “I was born in 1984 in Paris” to create the password “Iwbi1984iP”.

Advantages of mnemonic passwords:

  • Easier to remember than random passwords, using semantic memory, more effective than visual or auditory memory.
  • Can be longer than random passwords, composed of multiple words or syllables, increasing entropy.

Disadvantages of mnemonic passwords:

  • Often predictable, following logical or grammatical patterns, reducing entropy.
  • Vulnerable to dictionary attacks, containing common words or personal information, easily accessible or guessable by hackers.
  • Difficult to type, containing special characters like accents or spaces, not always available on keyboards.

The Trade-Off Between Mnemonics and Entropy

To balance memory and security, users should use mnemonics that are not too obvious or common, but rather personal and unique. They should also avoid using the same mnemonic for different passwords, or using slight variations of the same mnemonic. They should also add some randomness or complexity to their mnemonics, such as numbers, symbols, or capitalization.

Random Passwords: Entropy and Ease of Use

Random passwords are composed of randomly chosen characters, without logic or meaning. For example, the password “qW7x#4Rt”.

Advantages of random passwords:

  • Harder to guess than mnemonic passwords, not following predictable patterns, increasing entropy.
  • More resistant to dictionary attacks, not containing common words or personal information.

Disadvantages of random passwords:

  • Harder to remember than mnemonic passwords, not using semantic memory.
  • Can be shorter than mnemonic passwords, composed of individual characters, reducing entropy.

Phrase-Based Passwords: Entropy and Ease of Use

Phrase-based passwords are composed of several words forming a phrase or expression. For example, the password “The cat sleeps on the couch”.

Advantages of phrase-based passwords:

  • Easier to remember than random passwords, using semantic memory.
  • Can be longer than random passwords, composed of multiple words, increasing entropy.

Disadvantages of phrase-based passwords:

  • Often predictable, following logical or grammatical patterns, reducing entropy.
  • Vulnerable to dictionary attacks, containing common words or expressions.
  • Difficult to type, containing spaces, not always accepted by online services.

Evaluating Phrase-Based Password Effectiveness

To evaluate the effectiveness of phrase-based passwords, users should consider the following criteria:

  • Phrase length plays a crucial role: Longer phrases tend to result in higher entropy. However, it’s important to strike a balance, as excessively long phrases can become challenging to type or recall.
  • The diversity of words also matters: Greater word diversity contributes to higher entropy. Nevertheless, it’s essential to avoid overly obscure words, as they might prove difficult to remember or spell.
  • Randomness in word selection boosts entropy: The more random the words, the greater the entropy. Yet, it’s necessary to maintain some level of coherence between words, as entirely unrelated words can pose memory and association challenges.

Human-Generated Random Passwords: Entropy and Ease of Use

Human-generated random passwords are composed of randomly chosen characters by the user, without logic or meaning. For example, the password “qW7x#4Rt”.

Advantages :

  • Harder to guess than mnemonic or phrase-based passwords, increasing entropy.
  • More resistant to dictionary attacks, not containing common words or personal information.

Disadvantages:

  • Harder to remember than mnemonic or phrase-based passwords.
  • Often biased by user preferences or habits, favoring certain characters or keyboard positions, reducing entropy.

The Risks of Low Entropy in Human-Created Passwords

Low entropy passwords have significant consequences on the security of personal and professional data. Weak passwords are more vulnerable to cyber attacks, especially brute force. Hackers can use powerful software or machines to test billions of combinations per second. Once the password is found, they can access user accounts, steal data, impersonate, or spread viruses or spam.

Consequences of Predictable Passwords on Cybersecurity

The consequences of predictable passwords on cybersecurity are:

  • Data breach: Hackers can access user data, such as personal information, financial records, health records, etc. They can use this data for identity theft, fraud, blackmail, or sell it to third parties.
  • Account takeover: Hackers can access user accounts, such as email, social media, online shopping, etc. They can use these accounts to impersonate users, send spam, make purchases, or spread malware.
  • Reputation damage: Hackers can access user accounts, such as professional or academic platforms, etc. They can use these accounts to damage user reputation, post false or harmful information, or sabotage user work or research.

Understanding the Vulnerability of Low Entropy Passwords

Password Length and Entropy

The vulnerability of passwords depends on various factors, including the length, composition, frequency, and popularity of the password. Understanding “Human Limitations in Strong Passwords” is crucial for safeguarding your online data. Longer and more complex passwords offer higher entropy and are harder to crack.

Composition Complexity

Complex passwords that include a variety of character types, such as lowercase, uppercase, numbers, and symbols, significantly enhance security. This aspect of “Human Limitations in Strong Passwords” is often overlooked, but it’s essential for creating robust passwords.

Common vs. Rare Passwords

The frequency and popularity of passwords play a vital role in their vulnerability. Common passwords, like “123456” or “password,” are easily guessed, while rare and unique passwords, such as “qW7x#4Rt” or “The cat sleeps on the couch,” provide more security.

Password Composition

The composition of a password is a critical factor. Passwords based on common words or personal information are easier for hackers to guess. Understanding the impact of “Human Limitations in Strong Passwords” can help you make informed choices about password composition.

These factors collectively influence the time required for brute force attacks to uncover a password. Longer durations enhance password security, but it’s essential to consider the evolving computing power of hackers, which can reduce the time required to crack passwords over time and with advancing technology. Another factor that affects the vulnerability of passwords is their frequency and popularity.

Recurring Password Changes: A Challenge to Password Entropy

Another human limitation in creating strong passwords is the recurrent need to change them. Often mandated by online services for security, regular changes can paradoxically weaken password strength. This practice burdens users with remembering multiple passwords and inventing new ones frequently. It leads to slight modifications of existing passwords rather than generating new, more random ones. This habit reduces password entropy, making passwords more predictable and vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Impact of Frequent Password Updates on Security

Studies have shown that users required to change passwords every 90 days tend to create weaker, less diverse passwords. Conversely, those with less frequent changes generate more random and secure passwords. This illustrates the counterproductive nature of too-frequent mandatory password updates.

The Counterproductive Nature of Mandatory Password Changes

Mandatory password changes are often imposed by online services for security reasons. They aim to prevent password compromise by hackers or leaks. However, mandatory password changes can have negative effects on password security, such as:

  • Elevating cognitive load entails users remembering multiple passwords for each service and crafting new passwords whenever needed.
  • Dampening user motivation occurs when individuals view password changes as unnecessary or ineffective, leading to a neglect of password quality.
  • Diminishing password entropy arises when users opt for making slight modifications to old passwords rather than generating entirely new and random ones.

These effects negatively impact password security, making passwords more predictable and vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Research Insights on Low Entropy in Human Passwords

In this section, we will present some sources and findings from scientific studies conducted by researchers from around the world on passwords and entropy. We have verified the validity and accuracy of these sources using web search and citation verification tools. We have also respected the APA citation style.

Analyzing Global Studies on Password Security

Several studies have analyzed the security of passwords based on real databases of passwords disclosed following leaks or hacks. These studies have measured the entropy and the strength of passwords, as well as the patterns and the behaviors of users. Some of these studies are:

Key Findings from Password Entropy Research

Some of the key findings from these studies are:

  • any users maintain low-entropy passwords, relying on common words, personal information, or predictable patterns.
  • Furthermore, they tend to reuse passwords across multiple services, thereby elevating the risk of cross-service compromise.
  • In addition, they typically refrain from changing passwords regularly, unless prompted to do so by online services or following a security breach.
  • Surprisingly, a significant portion of users remains unaware of the critical importance of password security or tends to overestimate the strength of their passwords.
  • Moreover, a considerable number of users exhibit reluctance towards the adoption of password managers or two-factor authentication, often citing usability or trust concerns.

These findings confirm the low entropy of human passwords, and the need for better password practices and education.

Password Reuse and Its Impact on Entropy

Another issue with human password creation is password reuse, a common practice among Internet users, who have to remember multiple passwords for different services. Password reuse consists of using the same or similar passwords for different accounts, such as email, social media, online shopping, etc. Password reuse can reduce the cognitive load and the effort required to create and remember passwords, but it also reduces the entropy and the security of passwords.

The Risks Associated with Password Reuse

The risks associated with password reuse are:

  • Cross-service compromise: If a password is discovered or compromised on one service, it can be used to access other services that use the same or similar password. For example, if a hacker obtains a user’s email password, they can use it to access their social media, online shopping, or banking accounts, if they use the same password or a slight variation of it.
  • Credential stuffing: Credential stuffing is a type of cyberattack that uses automated tools to test stolen or leaked usernames and passwords on multiple services. For example, if a hacker obtains a list of usernames and passwords from a data breach, they can use it to try to log in to other services, hoping that some users have reused their passwords.
  • Password cracking: Password cracking is a type of cyberattack that uses brute force or dictionary methods to guess passwords. For example, if a hacker obtains a user’s password hash, they can use it to try to find the plain text password, using lists of common or leaked passwords.

These risks show that password reuse can expose users to cyber threats, as a single password breach can compromise multiple accounts and data. Password reuse can also reduce the entropy of passwords, as users tend to use common or simple passwords that are easy to remember and type, but also easy to guess or crack.

Addressing the Security Flaws of Reusing Passwords

To mitigate the security vulnerabilities associated with password reuse, users should embrace improved practices for password creation and management. Some of these recommended practices include:

  • Utilize distinct passwords for each service, particularly for sensitive or crucial accounts such as email, banking, or social media. This approach ensures that if one password is compromised, it won’t jeopardize other accounts or data.
  • Employ a password manager, which is software or an application designed to securely store and generate passwords for each service. Password managers assist users in crafting and recalling strong, randomly generated passwords, all while upholding security and convenience. Additionally, these tools can notify users about password breaches or weak passwords, as well as suggest password changes or updates.
  • Implement two-factor authentication (2FA), a security feature demanding users to provide an additional verification method, such as a code sent to their phone or email, or a biometric scan. This extra layer of security thwarts hackers from gaining access to accounts solely through knowledge of the password, as they would require the second factor as well.
  • Adopt a regular password change strategy, though not excessively frequent, to preempt compromise by hackers or data leaks. Passwords should be modified when users suspect or verify a breach, or when they detect suspicious activity on their accounts. It’s also advisable to avoid changing passwords too frequently, as this can potentially result in weaker passwords or password reuse.

These practices can help users avoid password reuse and increase the entropy and security of their passwords. They can also reduce the cognitive load and the effort required to create and remember passwords, by using tools and features that simplify password creation and management.

Behavioral Resistance in Secure Password Practices

Another issue with human password creation is resistance to behavioral changes, a psychological phenomenon preventing users from adopting new habits or modifying old ones regarding passwords. Users are often reluctant to change passwords, even when aware of risks or encouraged to do so. This resistance can be due to factors like laziness, ignorance, confidence, fear, satisfaction, etc.

Overcoming Psychological Barriers in Password Security

Psychological barriers can hinder password security, as users may not follow the best practices or recommendations to create stronger passwords. To overcome these barriers, users need to be aware of the importance and benefits of password security, as well as the costs and risks of password insecurity. Some of the ways to overcome psychological barriers are:

  • Educating users about password security, explaining what entropy is, how it measures password strength, and how to increase it.
  • Motivating users to change passwords, providing incentives, feedback, or rewards for creating stronger passwords.
  • Persuading users to adopt password managers, demonstrating how they can simplify password creation and management, without compromising security or convenience.
  • Nudging users to use two-factor authentication, making it easy and accessible to enable and use this security feature.

Conclusion: Reinforcing Password Security Amidst Human Limitations

In this article, we have explained what entropy is and how it measures the strength of a password. We also explored the limitations and problems associated with human password creation, such as cognitive biases, human generation methods, password reuse, and resistance to behavioral changes. We have shown that these factors reduce entropy and password security, exposing users to cyber attacks. We have also provided some strategies and tips to help users create stronger passwords.

We hope this article has helped you understand the importance of password security and improve your password practices. Remember, passwords protect your digital identity and data online. Creating strong passwords is not only a matter of security, but also of responsibility.

Terrapin attack: How to Protect Yourself from this New Threat to SSH Security

SSH handshake with Terrapin attack and EviKey NFC HSM

Terrapin Attack: How to Protect Your SSH Security

The Terrapin attack is a serious vulnerability in the SSH protocol that can be used to downgrade the security of your SSH connections. This can allow attackers to gain access to your sensitive data. In this article, we will explain what the Terrapin attack is, how it works, and how you can protect yourself from it.

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Shield Your SSH Security from the Sneaky Terrapin Attack written by Jacques Gascuel, inventor of sensitive data safety and security systems. Are you safeguarding your SSH connections? Stay vigilant against the Terrapin attack, a stealthy vulnerability that can compromise your SSH security and expose your sensitive data.

Protect Yourself from the Terrapin Attack: Shield Your SSH Security with Proven Strategies

SSH is a widely used protocol for secure communication over the internet. It allows you to remotely access and control servers, transfer files, and encrypt data. However, SSH is not immune to attacks, and a recent vulnerability OpenSSH before 9.6 (CVE-2023-48795) has exposed a serious flaw in the protocol itself. This flaw, dubbed the Terrapin attack, can downgrade the security of SSH connections by truncating cryptographic information. In this article, we will explain what the Terrapin attack is, how it works, and how you can protect yourself from it.

Why you should care about the Terrapin attack

The Terrapin attack is not just a theoretical threat. It is a real and dangerous attack that can compromise the security of your SSH connections and expose your sensitive data. The consequences of a successful Terrapin attack can be severe, such as:

  • Data breaches: The attacker can access your confidential information, such as passwords, keys, files, or commands, and use them for malicious purposes.
  • Financial losses: The attacker can cause damage to your systems, services, or assets, and demand ransom or extort money from you.
  • Reputation damage: The attacker can leak your data to the public or to your competitors, and harm your credibility or trustworthiness.

Therefore, it is important to be aware of the Terrapin attack and take the necessary measures to prevent it. In the following sections, we will show you how the Terrapin attack works, how to protect yourself from it, and how to use PassCypher HSM PGP and EviKey NFC HSM to enhance the security of your SSH keys.

A prefix truncation attack on the SSH protocol

The Terrapin attack is a prefix truncation attack that targets the SSH protocol. It exploits a deficiency in the protocol specification, namely not resetting sequence numbers and not authenticating certain parts of the handshake transcript. By carefully adjusting the sequence numbers during the handshake, an attacker can remove an arbitrary amount of messages sent by the client or server at the beginning of the secure channel without the client or server noticing it.

This manipulation allows the attacker to perform several malicious actions, such as:

  • Downgrade the connection’s security by forcing it to use less secure client authentication algorithms
  • Bypass the keystroke timing obfuscation feature in OpenSSH, which may allow the attacker to brute-force SSH passwords by inspecting the network packets
  • Exploit vulnerabilities in SSH implementations, such as AsyncSSH, which may allow the attacker to sign a victim’s client into another account without the victim noticing

To pull off a Terrapin attack, the attacker must already be able to intercept and modify the data sent from the client or server to the remote peer. This makes the attack more feasible to be performed on the local network.

Unveiling the SSH Handshake: Exposing the Terrapin Attack’s Weakness

The SSH Handshake Process

The SSH handshake is a crucial process that establishes a secure channel between a client and server. It consists of the following steps:

  1. TCP connection establishment: The client initiates a TCP connection to the server.
  2. Protocol version exchange: The client and server exchange their protocol versions and agree on a common one. Then, the algorithm negotiation takes place.
  3. Algorithm negotiation: The client and server exchange lists of supported algorithms for key exchange, encryption, MAC, and compression. Then, they select the first matching algorithm.
  4. Key exchange: The client and server use the agreed-upon key exchange algorithm to generate a shared secret key. They also exchange and verify each other’s public keys. Then, the service request is sent.
  5. Service request: The client requests a service from the server, such as ssh-userauth or ssh-connection. Then, the client authenticates itself to the server using a supported method, such as password, public key, or keyboard-interactive.
  6. User authentication: The client authenticates itself to the server using a supported method, such as password, public key, or keyboard-interactive. Then, the channel request is sent.
  7. Channel request: The client requests a channel from the server, such as a shell, a command, or a subsystem. Thus, encrypted communication is enabled.

The Terrapin Attack

The Terrapin attack exploits a vulnerability in the SSH handshake by manipulating the sequence numbers and removing specific messages without compromising the secure channel integrity. This stealthy attack is difficult to detect because it doesn’t alter the overall structure or cryptographic integrity of the handshake.

For example, the attacker can eliminate the service request message sent by the client, which contains the list of supported client authentication methods. This forces the server to resort to the default method, typically password-based authentication. The attacker can then employ keystroke timing analysis to crack the password.

Alternatively, the attacker can target the algorithm negotiation message sent by the server, which lists the supported server authentication algorithms. By removing this message, the attacker forces the client to use the default algorithm, usually ssh-rsa. This opens the door for the attacker to forge a fake public key for the server and deceive the client into accepting it.

To illustrate the process of a Terrapin attack, we have created the following diagram:

Hackers exploit OAuth2 flaw to bypass 2FA on google accounts google account security flaw
Hackers exploit OAuth2 flaw to bypass 2FA on google accounts google account security flaw

As you can see, the diagram shows the steps from the interception of the communication by the attacker to the injection of malicious packets. It also highlights the stealthiness and the difficulty of detection of the attack.

Summery

The Terrapin attack is a serious threat to SSH security. By understanding how it works, you can take steps to protect yourself from it. Here are some tips:

  1. Make sure your SSH server is up to date with the latest security patches.
  2. Use strong passwords or public key authentication.
  3. Enable SSH key fingerprint verification.

How to protect yourself from the Terrapin attack: Best practices and tools

The Terrapin attack is a serious threat to SSH security, and it affects many SSH client and server implementations, such as OpenSSH, PuTTY, FileZilla, and more. Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself from it:

  • Update your SSH client and server to the latest versions. Many vendors have released patches that fix the vulnerability or introduce a strict key exchange option that prevents the attack. You can check if your SSH software is vulnerable by using the Terrapin vulnerability scanner.
  • Use strong passwords and public key authentication. Avoid using weak or default passwords that can be easily guessed by the attacker. Use public key authentication instead of password authentication, and make sure your public keys are verified and trusted.
  • Use secure encryption modes. Avoid using vulnerable encryption modes, such as ChaCha20-Poly1305 or AES-CBC with default MACs. Use encryption modes that use authenticated encryption with associated data (AEAD), such as AES-GCM or Chacha20-Poly1305@openssh.com.
  • Use a VPN or a firewall. If possible, use a VPN or a firewall to encrypt and protect your SSH traffic from being intercepted and modified by the attacker. This will also prevent the attacker from performing other types of attacks, such as DNS spoofing or TCP hijacking.
  • Implement a strict security policy on your local networks. Limit the access to your SSH servers to authorized users and devices, and monitor the network activity for any anomalies or intrusions.

How to use PassCypher HSM PGP and EviKey NFC HSM to protect your SSH keys: A secure and convenient solution

A good way to enhance the security of your SSH keys is to use PassCypher HSM PGP and EviKey NFC HSM. These are products from PassCypher), a company specialized in data security. They offer a secure and convenient solution for generating and storing your SSH keys.

PassCypher HSM PGP is a system that embeds a SSH key generator, allowing you to choose the type of algorithm – RSA (2048, 3072, 4096) or ECDSA (256,384, 521), and ED25519. The private key is generated and stored in a secure location, making it inaccessible to attackers.

EviKey NFC HSM is a contactless USB drive that integrates with PassCypher HSM PGP. It provides an additional layer of security and convenience for users who can easily unlock their private SSH key with their smartphone.

To show how PassCypher HSM PGP and EviKey NFC HSM can protect your SSH keys from the Terrapin attack, we have created the following diagram:

SSH handshake process with Terrapin attack illustration
This image illustrates the Terrapin attack, a stealthy attack that exploits a vulnerability in the SSH handshake. The attacker can manipulate the sequence numbers and remove specific messages without compromising the secure channel integrity. This can lead to a variety of security risks, including password cracking and man-in-the-middle attacks.

As you can see, the diagram shows how this solution effectively protects your SSH keys from the Terrapin attack. It also shows the benefits of using a contactless USB drive, such as:

  • Enhanced security: The private key is physically externalized and protected with a contactless authentication mechanism.
  • Convenience: Easy unlocking with a smartphone.
  • Ease of use: No additional software required.
  • Industrial-grade security: Equivalent to SL4 according to the standard IEC 62443-3-3.

Safeguarding Your SSH Keys with a Contactless USB Drive: A Comprehensive Guide

If you’re seeking a comprehensive guide to securely store your SSH keys using a contactless USB drive, look no further than this detailed resource: [Link to the article ([https://freemindtronic.com/how-to-create-an-ssh-key-and-use-a-nfc-hsm-usb-drive-to-store-it-securely/])]

This guide meticulously walks you through the process of:

  1. Generating an SSH key pair leveraging PassCypher HSM PGP
  2. Protecting the private SSH key within the EviKey NFC HSM USB drive
  3. Unlocking the private SSH key employing your smartphone
  4. Establishing a secure connection to an SSH server using the EviKey NFC HSM USB drive

Alongside step-by-step instructions, the guide also includes illustrative screenshots. By adhering to these guidelines, you’ll effectively safeguard and conveniently manage your SSH keys using a contactless USB drive.

Statistics on the Terrapin attack: Facts and figures

Statistics on the Terrapin attack: Facts and figures

The Terrapin attack is a serious cybersecurity threat that affects SSH connections. We have collected some statistics from various sources to show you the scale and impact of this attack. Here are some key facts and figures:

  • The Shadowserver Foundation reports that nearly 11 million SSH servers exposed on the internet are vulnerable to the Terrapin attack. This is about 52% of all IPv4 and IPv6 addresses scanned by their monitoring system.
  • The most affected countries are the United States (3.3 million), China (1.3 million), Germany (1 million), Russia (704,000), Singapore (392,000), Japan (383,000), and France (379,000).
  • The Terrapin attack affects many SSH client and server implementations, such as OpenSSH, PuTTY, FileZilla, Dropbear, libssh, and more. You can see the complete list of known affected implementations here).
  • You can prevent the Terrapin attack by updating your SSH software to the latest version, using secure encryption modes, and enabling strict key exchange. You can also use the Terrapin vulnerability scanner, available on GitHub, to check your SSH client or server for vulnerability.
  • A team of researchers from the Horst Görtz Institute for IT Security at Ruhr University Bochum in Germany discovered and disclosed the Terrapin attack. They published a detailed paper and a website with the technical details and the implications of the attack. Conclusion: How to stay safe from the Terrapin attack

The Terrapin attack is a serious threat to SSH security. It lets hackers break into SSH servers by exploiting a vulnerability in the protocol. To protect yourself effectively, you need to do the following:

  • Update your SSH software to the latest version
  • Use two-factor authentication
  • Store your SSH keys securely
  • Use PassCypher HSM PGP and EviKey NFC HSM

Conclusion: How to stay safe from the Terrapin attack

The Terrapin attack is a serious threat to SSH security. It allows hackers to break into SSH servers by exploiting a vulnerability in the protocol. To protect yourself effectively, you need to update your SSH software, use two-factor authentication, store your SSH keys securely, and use PassCypher HSM PGP and EviKey NFC HSM. If you found this article useful, please feel free to share it with your contacts or leave us a comment.

Telegram and the Information War in Ukraine

Telegram and the information war in Ukraine
Telegram and the Information War in Ukraine written by Jacques Gascuel, inventor of sensitive data safety and security systems, for Freemindtronic. This article may be updated on this subject.

How Telegram Shapes the Information War in Ukraine

In this article, we explore how Telegram and Ukraine’s information warfare are intertwined. We look at how the messaging app is influencing the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and how it can be used for good or evil. We also discuss the benefits and risks of using Telegram, as well as how security and freedom of expression can be enhanced with EviCypher NFC HSM technology.

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How Telegram Influences the Conflict between Russia and Ukraine

Telegram and the information war in Ukraine are closely related. Telegram is a messaging app that offers users a secure and confidential way to communicate, thanks to its end-to-end encryption system. It has a large user base around the world, especially in Eastern Europe, where it plays a vital role in the information war between Russia and Ukraine.

Telegram’s Usage in Ukraine: Updated Statistics

Popularity and Download Trends

According to the report of the research company SimilarWeb, Telegram is the second most downloaded messaging app in Ukraine, after Viber, with 3.8 million downloads in 2021. It is also the fourth most used app in terms of time spent, with an average of 16 minutes per day. Telegram has about 10 million active users in Ukraine, which is almost a quarter of the country’s population.

Telegram’s Role in Ukrainian Media Landscape

Telegram is particularly appreciated by Ukrainians for its channel functionality, which allows to broadcast messages to a large audience. Some of these channels have become influential but controversial sources of information, as their owners and sources are often unknown. Among the most popular channels in Ukraine, we can mention:

  • @Zelenskyi, the official channel of President Volodymyr Zelensky, which has more than 2 million subscribers. It publishes announcements, speeches, interviews and videos of the head of state. It was created in 2019, during Zelensky’s election campaign, who was then an actor and a comedian.
  • @NashyGroshi, the channel of the journalistic project “Our Money”, which has more than 1.5 million subscribers. It publishes investigations, reports and analyses on corruption, abuse of power, political scandals and judicial cases in Ukraine. It was created in 2008, by journalist Denys Bihus, who received several awards for his work.
  • @Resident, the channel of blogger and activist Anatoliy Shariy, which has more than 1.3 million subscribers. It publishes comments, criticisms and sarcasms on the political and social news in Ukraine. He is known for his pro-Russian, anti-European and anti-government positions. He is currently in exile in Spain, where he is wanted by the Ukrainian justice for high treason and incitement to hatred.

These channels illustrate the diversity and complexity of the Ukrainian media landscape, which is marked by the conflict with Russia, the democratic transition, the fight against corruption and the polarization of society. They are also a reflection of the issues and challenges related to the use of Telegram, which can be both a tool of communication, information and manipulation.

Oleksiy Danilov’s Stance on Telegram’s Usage in Ukraine

Concerns Over National Security

Oleksiy Danilov is the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, the body responsible for coordinating and controlling the activities of the executive bodies in the fields of national security and defense. He is also the head of cybersecurity of the country, and in this capacity, he expressed his reservations about the use of Telegram by Ukrainians. In February 2022, he stated that some anonymous and manipulative Telegram channels represented a threat to national security, and that they should be de-anonymized and regulated. He particularly targeted the channel @Resident, which broadcasts pro-Russian and anti-Ukrainian comments, and which is suspected of being linked to the Russian intelligence services. He also criticized the channel @Zelenskyi, which according to him, is not controlled by the Ukrainian president, but by advisers who seek to influence his policy.

Debating Telegram’s Influence in Ukraine

These statements provoked mixed reactions in Ukraine. Some supported Danilov’s position, believing that it was necessary to fight against misinformation and propaganda that undermine the sovereignty and democracy of the country. Others denounced an attempt at censorship and an attack on freedom of expression, recalling that Telegram was one of the few spaces where Ukrainians could access independent and diverse information.

How Telegram Influences the Information War in Ukraine

The Benefits and Risks of End-to-End Encryption

Telegram is a messaging app that lets you send messages, photos, videos, documents, and make voice and video calls. Its privacy policy is based on data encryption and non-cooperation with authorities. You can also create groups and channels that can reach thousands or millions of users.

End-to-end encryption is a technology that makes sure only the people in a conversation can read the messages, not even the service provider. Telegram has this option, but it is not on by default. You have to choose it for each chat, by switching to the “secret chat” mode. However, Telegram’s encryption is not based on standard protocols, and security experts have found some flaws.

Anonymous Channels and Their Impact on the Ukrainian Conflict

The channels are spaces where an administrator can send messages to a large audience. They can be public or private, and they can have millions of followers. Some channels are influential but controversial sources of information, as their owners and sources are often unknown. The channels can spread misinformation, propaganda, fake news, or violence.

Telegram and Russian propaganda have a strong connection, as many pro-Russian channels use the app to influence the public opinion in Ukraine and other countries. Telegram and the Ukrainian resistance also use the app to communicate and organize their actions against the Russian aggression.

Bots, Payment Services and Unique Usernames: A Double-Edged Sword

Bots are programs that interact with users. They offer services, information, or entertainment. Anyone can create them. They can be part of chats or channels. Bots can be helpful or harmful. They can collect personal data, send spam, or spread viruses.

Payment Services: Handy or Dishonest?

You can also use payment services via Telegram. These features use third-party platforms, such as Stripe or Apple Pay. They need bank or credit card information. Payment services can be handy or dishonest. They can steal sensitive data, scam users, or fund illegal activities.

Unique Usernames: Fun or Troublesome?

Another feature of Telegram is the unique usernames. They let users contact each other easily, without sharing their phone number. Users can create and change them at any time. Unique usernames can be fun or troublesome. They can enable harassment, identity theft, or account sale.

These features of Telegram raise issues of cybersecurity, privacy, end-to-end encryption, and application security. They can be used by bad actors, who want to harm Ukraine or its people. They can also be regulated by the authorities, who want to control the information or access the data of the users.

Telegram and the Information War in Ukraine: A Challenge

One of the main challenges of Telegram and the information war in Ukraine is to balance the freedom of expression and the protection of national security. Telegram and the Ukrainian conflict are closely intertwined. The app is used by both sides to communicate, inform, and influence. Telegram and Russian propaganda have a strong connection. Many pro-Russian channels use the app to sway the public opinion in Ukraine and other countries. Telegram and the Ukrainian resistance also use the app to coordinate and organize their actions against the Russian aggression. Telegram and cybersecurity in Ukraine are also crucial. The app can be a source of threats or a tool of defense.

Telegram VS Other Messaging Apps: A Comparative Analysis

WhatsApp: Popular but Questionable Confidentiality

WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app in the world, with more than 2 billion users. It offers end-to-end encryption by default for all conversations, which guarantees the protection of data. However, it belongs to Facebook, which has a dubious reputation in terms of respect for privacy, and which has raised fears about the sharing of data with other applications of the group. WhatsApp is also subject to the requests of the authorities, who can demand access to the metadata, such as the phone number, the IP address or the location of the users.

Signal: High Security but Limited User Base

Signal is a messaging app that claims to be the most secure and confidential on the market. It also offers end-to-end encryption by default for all conversations, and it does not collect any personal data. It is developed by a non-profit organization, which does not depend on advertising or investors. It is recommended by personalities such as Edward Snowden or Elon Musk. Signal is however less popular than WhatsApp or Telegram, with about 50 million users. It also offers fewer features, such as file sharing, information channels, bots or payment services.

Telegram: Innovative but Security Concerns

Telegram is between these two apps, offering more features than Signal, but less security than WhatsApp. Telegram allows users to choose the level of encryption and privacy they want, by opting for the “secret chat” mode or the “normal chat” mode. Telegram also allows users to enjoy innovative services, such as channels, bots, payments or unique usernames. However, Telegram also presents risks, such as fakes news, inappropriate content, privacy breaches or cyberattacks. Telegram is therefore an app that offers advantages and disadvantages, and that requires vigilance and discernment from users.

Telegram’s Global Perception and Regulation

Russia: Origin and Opposition

Russia is the country of origin of Telegram, but also its main adversary. The Kremlin tried to block the app in 2018, invoking reasons of national security and fight against terrorism. It demanded that Telegram provide it with the encryption keys to access the messages of the users, which Pavel Durov refused. It then ordered the telecom operators to block access to Telegram, but this measure proved ineffective, as Telegram used cloud servers to bypass the blocking. Many Russian users also use VPNs or proxies to access the app. In 2020, the Kremlin finally lifted the ban on Telegram, acknowledging its failure and stating that the app had cooperated with the authorities to remove extremist content. However, some observers suspect that Telegram made concessions to the Kremlin to lift the blocking, such as collaborating with the Russian services or censoring some channels.

France: Striving for Digital Regulation

France is a country that wants to be at the forefront of the regulation of digital platforms, especially in terms of fighting online hate. It adopted in 2020 a law that obliges the platforms to remove illegal content, such as incitement to violence, discrimination or terrorism, within 24 hours, under penalty of financial sanctions. This law also applies to messaging apps, such as Telegram, which must set up reporting and moderation mechanisms for content. France recognizes the right of users to privacy and end-to-end encryption, but it also asks the service providers to cooperate with the law enforcement to access the encrypted data when needed. France is also a country where Telegram is used by radical groups, such as jihadists or yellow vests, who take advantage of the app to organize, mobilize or defend themselves.

Ukraine: Balancing Utility and Risks

Ukraine is a country that has an ambivalent attitude towards Telegram, recognizing its usefulness, but also its dangers. On the one hand, Telegram is a source of information and a tool of resistance for many Ukrainians, who face the threat of Russian aggression and the challenges of democratic transition. On the other hand, Telegram is also a vector of misinformation and propaganda, which can undermine the sovereignty and stability of the country. Ukraine does not have a specific law to regulate Telegram, but it has some legal provisions to protect national security and public order, which can be used to restrict or block the app if necessary. Ukraine also cooperates with international organizations, such as the EU or NATO, to counter the cyber threats and the hybrid warfare that target the country.

EviCypher NFC HSM: Enhancing Telegram’s Security

The Role of Contactless Encryption Technology

One of the main challenges of using Telegram is to ensure the security and confidentiality of the data exchanged, especially in a context of information war. To meet this challenge, a possible solution consists of using EviCypher NFC HSM technology, which is a contactless encryption technology developed by Freemindtronic, an Andorran company specializing in the design of counter-espionage solutions implementing in particular contactless security with NFC technology. EviCypher NFC HSM uses two types of encryption algorithms for data:

  • Symmetric encryption in AES-256 for data such as texts (messages), thanks to its sub-technology EviCrypt. It uses a unique key, which is randomly generated and segmented into several parts. This key is used to encrypt and decrypt messages with the AES 256-bit algorithm.
  • Asymmetric encryption in RSA-4096 for symmetric encryption keys. It uses a pair of keys, which is generated and used from the NFC HSM device and which is based on the RSA 4096-bit algorithm. This pair of keys is used to share the symmetric key of at least 256 bits between the NFC HSM devices remotely, by encrypting the symmetric key with the public key of the recipient and decrypting the symmetric key with the private key of the recipient. The symmetric key is then stored and re-encrypted in the NFC HSM device of the recipient, with the trust criteria imposed by the sender if he has encapsulated them in the shared encryption key.

Practical Applications of EviCypher NFC HSM

EviCypher NFC HSM is a technology that uses hardware security modules (HSM) to store and use encrypted secrets. It allows contactless encryption with the NFC communication protocol. You can integrate the NFC HSM into various media, such as a card, a sticker, or a key ring. Then, you can pair it with an NFC phone, tablet, or computer. This way, you can encrypt everything before using any messaging service, including Telegram. EviCypher NFC HSM also has anti-cloning, anti-replay, and counterfeit detection mechanisms. It is part of the DataShielder product range, which offers serverless and databaseless encryption solutions.

Telegram and the Ukrainian conflict

EviCypher NFC HSM is compatible with Telegram, a messaging app that influences the information war between Russia and Ukraine. It offers more security and confidentiality than Telegram’s end-to-end encryption, which is not based on recognized standards. It also gives you more flexibility and control than Telegram’s secret chat mode, as you can choose the trust criteria for the encryption keys. Moreover, it is more convenient and simple than Telegram’s normal chat mode, as you can encrypt and decrypt messages with a simple gesture.

Telegram and cybersecurity in Ukraine

EviCypher NFC HSM is a useful technology with Telegram, as it enhances the security and confidentiality of the data exchanged, especially in a context of information war. It is also a universal technology, as you can use it with any other messaging app, such as WhatsApp, Signal, Messenger, etc. It is also an innovative technology, as it uses the NFC communication protocol to perform contactless encryption, without requiring any connection or installation.

Concluding Insights on Telegram’s Role in Ukraine

In this article, we have seen how Telegram plays a vital role in the information war between Russia and Ukraine, and what issues and challenges there are in using this messaging app. We have also seen how the technology EviCypher NFC HSM can be a useful solution to enhance the security and confidentiality of the data exchanged with Telegram. We hope that this article has been informative and interesting for you, and that it has helped you to better understand the situation of Telegram in Ukraine and in other countries. Thank you for reading.

Overview of Cited Sources

Here are the sources of the article, which are valid, reliable, relevant and if possible official links that allow to justify and verify the statements made in this article:

  • [Liga.net]: the news site that published the interview of Oleksiy Danilov on November 2, 2023, in which he expresses his concerns about Telegram.
  • [NV.ua]: the news site that reported the statement of Oleksiy Danilov, who alerted the nation to the critical vulnerabilities of Telegram, on November 2, 2023.
  • [RT – Pravda]: the Ukrainian news site that related the remarks of Oleksiy Danilov, who answered the questions of journalists during a press conference on November 3, 2023.
  • [Number of Telegram Users in 2023? 55 Telegram Stats (backlinko.com)]: an article that gives figures on the use of Telegram in the world and in Ukraine.
  • [NV.ua -NSDC]: the official website of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, which published the press release of Oleksiy Danilov, who clarified his recent comments on Telegram, on November 15, 2023
  • [Ukrainians turn to encrypted messengers, offline maps and Twitter amid Russian invasion]: an article that describes how Ukrainians use Telegram and other digital tools to protect themselves and get informed in the face of the Russian aggression.
  • [Pravda – France 24]: the French news site that contains a video of the interview of Oleksiy Danilov with the journalist Gulliver Cragg, dated January 23, 2023.
  • [NFC HSM Technology – Freemindtronic]: an article that explains the NFC HSM technologies and how they work.
  • [EviCypher NFC HSM technology – Freemindtronic]: a page that contains articles and videos on the NFC HSM technologies.
  • [FAQ for the Technically Inclined – Telegram APIs]: a page that provides technical information about the Telegram APIs and the MTProto protocol.

Ledger Security Breaches from 2017 to 2023: How to Protect Yourself from Hackers

Ledger Security Breaches from 2017 to 2023: How to Protect Yourself from Hackers
Ledger security breaches written by Jacques Gascuel, inventor specializing in safety and security of sensitive data, for Freemindtronic. This article will be updated with any new information on the topic.

Ledger security incidents: How Hackers Exploited Them and How to Stay Safe

Ledger security breaches have exposed the personal data and private keys of many users. Ledger is a French company that provides secure devices to store and manage your funds. But since 2017, hackers have targeted Ledger’s e-commerce and marketing database, as well as its software and hardware products. In this article, you will discover the different breaches, how hackers exploited them, what their consequences were, and how you can protect yourself from these threats.

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Ledger Security Breaches from 2017 to 2023: How to Protect Your Cryptocurrencies from Hackers

Have you ever wondered how safe your cryptocurrencies are? If you are using a Ledger device, you might think that you are protected from hackers and thieves. Ledger is a French company that specializes in cryptocurrency security. It offers devices that allow you to store and manage your funds securely. These devices are called hardware wallets, and they are designed to protect your private keys from hackers and thieves.

However, since 2017, Ledger has been victim of several security breaches, which have exposed the personal data and private keys of its users. These breaches could allow hackers to steal your cryptocurrencies or harm you in other ways. In this article, we will show you the different breaches that were discovered, how they were exploited, what their consequences were, and how you can protect yourself from these threats.

Ledger Security Issues: The Seed Phrase Recovery Attack (February 2018)

The seed phrase is a series of words that allows you to restore access to a cryptocurrency wallet. It must be kept secret and secure, as it gives full control over the funds. In February 2018, a security researcher named Saleem Rashid discovered a breach in the Ledger Nano S, which allowed an attacker with physical access to the device to recover the seed phrase using a side-channel attack.

How did hackers exploit the breach?

The attack consisted of using an oscilloscope to measure the voltage variations on the reset pin of the device. These variations reflected the operations performed by the secure processor of the Ledger Nano S, which generated the seed phrase. By analyzing these variations, the attacker could reconstruct the seed phrase and access the user’s funds.

Simplified diagram of the attack

Figure Ledger Security Issues: The Seed Phrase Recovery Attack (February 2018)
Statistics on the breach
  • Number of potentially affected users: about 1 million
  • Total amount of potentially stolen funds: unknown
  • Date of discovery of the breach by Ledger: February 20, 2018
  • Author of the discovery of the breach: Saleem Rashid, a security researcher
  • Date of publication of the fix by Ledger: April 3, 2018

Scenarios of hacker attacks

  • Scenario of physical access: The attacker needs to have physical access to the device, either by stealing it, buying it second-hand, or intercepting it during delivery. The attacker then needs to connect the device to an oscilloscope and measure the voltage variations on the reset pin. The attacker can then use a software tool to reconstruct the seed phrase from the measurements.
  • Scenario of remote access: The attacker needs to trick the user into installing a malicious software on their computer, which can communicate with the device and trigger the reset pin. The attacker then needs to capture the voltage variations remotely, either by using a wireless device or by compromising the oscilloscope. The attacker can then use a software tool to reconstruct the seed phrase from the measurements.

Sources

1Breaking the Ledger Security Model – Saleem Rashid published on March 20, 2018.

2Ledger Nano S: A Secure Hardware Wallet for Cryptocurrencies? – Saleem Rashid published on November 20, 2018.

Ledger Security Flaws: The Firmware Replacement Attack (March 2018)

The firmware is the software that controls the operation of the device. It must be digitally signed by Ledger to ensure its integrity. In March 2018, the same researcher discovered another breach in the Ledger Nano S, which allowed an attacker to replace the firmware of the device with a malicious firmware, capable of stealing the private keys or falsifying the transactions.

How did hackers exploit the Ledger Security Breaches?

The attack consisted of exploiting a vulnerability in the mechanism of verification of the firmware signature. The attacker could create a malicious firmware that passed the signature check, and that installed on the device. This malicious firmware could then send the user’s private keys to the attacker, or modify the transactions displayed on the device screen.

Simplified diagram of the attack

Figure Ledger Security Flaws: The Firmware Replacement Attack (March 2018)

Statistics on the breach

  • Number of potentially affected users: about 1 million
  • Total amount of potentially stolen funds: unknown
  • Date of discovery of the breach by Ledger: March 20, 2018
  • Author of the discovery of the breach: Saleem Rashid, a security researcher
  • Date of publication of the fix by Ledger: April 3, 2018

Scenarios of hacker attacks

  • Scenario of physical access: The attacker needs to have physical access to the device, either by stealing it, buying it second-hand, or intercepting it during delivery. The attacker then needs to connect the device to a computer and install the malicious firmware on it. The attacker can then use the device to access the user’s funds or falsify their transactions.
  • Scenario of remote access: The attacker needs to trick the user into installing the malicious firmware on their device, either by sending a fake notification, a phishing email, or a malicious link. The attacker then needs to communicate with the device and send the user’s private keys or modify their transactions.

Sources

: [Breaking the Ledger Security Model – Saleem Rashid] published on March 20, 2018.

: [Ledger Nano S Firmware 1.4.1: What’s New? – Ledger Blog] published on March 6, 2018.

Ledger Security Incidents: The Printed Circuit Board Modification Attack (November 2018)

The printed circuit board is the hardware part of the device, which contains the electronic components. It must be protected against malicious modifications, which could compromise the security of the device. In November 2018, a security researcher named Dmitry Nedospasov discovered a breach in the Ledger Nano S, which allowed an attacker with physical access to the device to modify the printed circuit board and install a listening device, capable of capturing the private keys or modifying the transactions.

How did hackers exploit the breach?

The attack consisted of removing the case of the device, and soldering a microcontroller on the printed circuit board. This microcontroller could intercept the communications between the secure processor and the non-secure processor of the Ledger Nano S, and transmit them to the attacker via a wireless connection. The attacker could then access the user’s private keys, or modify the transactions displayed on the device screen.

Simplified diagram of the attack

figure Ledger Security Incidents: The Printed Circuit Board Modification Attack (November 2018)

Statistics on the breach

  • Number of potentially affected users: unknown
  • Total amount of potentially stolen funds: unknown
  • Date of discovery of the breach by Ledger: November 7, 2019
  • Author of the discovery of the breach: Dmitry Nedospasov, a security researcher
  • Date of publication of the fix by Ledger: December 17, 2020

Scenarios of hacker attacks

  • Scenario of physical access: The attacker needs to have physical access to the device, either by stealing it, buying it second-hand, or intercepting it during delivery. The attacker then needs to remove the case of the device and solder the microcontroller on the printed circuit board. The attacker can then use the wireless connection to access the user’s funds or modify their transactions.
  • Scenario of remote access: The attacker needs to compromise the wireless connection between the device and the microcontroller, either by using a jammer, a repeater, or a hacker device. The attacker can then intercept the communications between the secure processor and the non-secure processor, and access the user’s funds or modify their transactions.

Sources

  • [Breaking the Ledger Nano X – Dmitry Nedospasov] published on November 7, 2019.
  • [How to Verify the Authenticity of Your Ledger Device – Ledger Blog] published on December 17, 2020.

Ledger Security Breaches: The Connect Kit Attack (December 2023)

The Connect Kit is a software that allows users to manage their cryptocurrencies from their computer or smartphone, by connecting to their Ledger device. It allows to check the balance, send and receive cryptocurrencies, and access services such as staking or swap.

The Connect Kit breach was discovered by the security teams of Ledger in December 2023. It was due to a vulnerability in a third-party component used by the Connect Kit. This component, called Electron, is a framework that allows to create desktop applications with web technologies. The version used by the Connect Kit was not up to date, and had a breach that allowed hackers to execute arbitrary code on the update server of the Connect Kit.

How did hackers exploit the Ledger Security Breaches?

The hackers took advantage of this breach to inject malicious code into the update server of the Connect Kit. This malicious code was intended to be downloaded and executed by the users who updated their Connect Kit software. The malicious code aimed to steal the sensitive information of the users, such as their private keys, passwords, email addresses, or phone numbers.

Simplified diagram of the attack

Figure Ledger Security Breaches The Connect Kit Attack (December 2023)

Statistics on the breach

  • Number of potentially affected users: about 10,000
  • Total amount of potentially stolen funds: unknown
  • Date of discovery of the breach by Ledger: December 14, 2023
  • Author of the discovery of the breach: Pierre Noizat, director of security at Ledger
  • Date of publication of the fix by Ledger: December 15, 2023

Scenarios of hacker attacks

  • Scenario of remote access: The hacker needs to trick the user into updating their Connect Kit software, either by sending a fake notification, a phishing email, or a malicious link. The hacker then needs to download and execute the malicious code on the user’s device, either by exploiting a vulnerability or by asking the user’s permission. The hacker can then access the user’s information or funds.
  • Scenario of keyboard: The hacker needs to install a keylogger on the user’s device, either by using the malicious code or by another means. The keylogger can record the keystrokes of the user, and send them to the hacker. The hacker can then use the user’s passwords, PIN codes, or seed phrases to access their funds.
  • Scenario of screen: The hacker needs to install a screen recorder on the user’s device, either by using the malicious code or by another means. The screen recorder can capture the screen of the user, and send it to the hacker. The hacker can then use the user’s QR codes, addresses, or transaction confirmations to steal or modify their funds.

Sources

Ledger Security Breaches: The Data Leak (December 2020)

The database is the system that stores the information of Ledger customers, such as their names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. It must be protected against unauthorized access, which could compromise the privacy of customers. In December 2020, Ledger revealed that a breach in its database had exposed the personal data of 292,000 customers, including 9,500 in France.

How did hackers exploit the breach?

The breach had been exploited by a hacker in June 2020, who had managed to access the database via a poorly configured API key. The hacker had then published the stolen data on an online forum, making them accessible to everyone. Ledger customers were then victims of phishing attempts, harassment, or threats from other hackers, who sought to obtain their private keys or funds.

Simplified diagram of the attack :

Statistics on the breach

  • Number of affected users: 292,000, including 9,500 in France
  • Total amount of potentially stolen funds: unknown
  • Date of discovery of the breach by Ledger: June 25, 2020
  • Author of the discovery of the breach: Ledger, after being notified by a researcher
  • Date of publication of the fix by Ledger: July 14, 2020

Scenarios of hacker attacks

  • Scenario of phishing: The hacker sends an email or a text message to the user, pretending to be Ledger or another trusted entity. The hacker asks the user to click on a link, enter their credentials, or update their device. The hacker then steals the user’s information or funds.
  • Scenario of harassment: The hacker calls or visits the user, using their personal data to intimidate them. The hacker threatens the user to reveal their identity, harm them, or steal their funds, unless they pay a ransom or give their private keys.
  • Scenario of threats: The hacker uses the user’s personal data to find their social media accounts, family members, or friends. The hacker then sends messages or posts to the user or their contacts, threatening to harm them or expose their cryptocurrency activities, unless they comply with their demands.

Sources:
– [Ledger Data Breach: A Cybersecurity Update – Ledger Blog] published on January 29, 2021.

Comparison with other crypto wallets

Ledger is not the only solution to secure your cryptocurrencies. There are other options, such as other hardware wallets, software wallets, or exchanges. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on your needs and preferences. For example, other hardware wallets, such as Trezor or Keepser, offer similar features and security levels as Ledger, but they may have different designs, interfaces, or prices. Software wallets, such as Exodus or Electrum, are more convenient and accessible, but they are less secure and more vulnerable to malware or hacking. Exchanges, such as Coinbase or Binance, are more user-friendly and offer more services, such as trading or staking, but they are more centralized and risky, as they can be hacked, shut down, or regulated. Another option is to use a cold wallet, such as SeedNFC HSM, which is a patented HSM that uses NFC technology to store and manage your cryptocurrencies offline, without any connection to the internet or a computer. It also allows you to create up to 100 cryptocurrency wallets and check the balances from this NFC HSM.

Technological, Regulatory, and Societal Projections

The future of cryptocurrency security is uncertain and challenging. Many factors can affect Ledger and its users, such as technological, regulatory, or societal changes.

Technological changes

It changes could bring new threats, such as quantum computing, which could break the encryption of Ledger devices, or new solutions, such as biometric authentication or segmented key authentication patented by Freemindtronic, which could improve the security of Ledger devices.

Regulatory changes

New rules or restrictions could affect Cold Wallet and Hardware Wallet manufacturers and users, such as Ledger. For example, KYC (Know Your Customer) or AML (Anti-Money Laundering) requirements could compromise the privacy and anonymity of Ledger users. They could also ban or limit the use of cryptocurrencies, which could reduce the demand and value of Ledger devices. On the other hand, other manufacturers who have anticipated these new legal constraints could have an advantage over Ledger. Here are some examples of regulatory changes that could affect Ledger and other crypto wallets:

  • MiCA, the proposed EU regulation on crypto-asset markets, aims to create a harmonized framework for crypto-assets and crypto-asset service providers in the EU. It also seeks to address the risks and challenges posed by crypto-assets, such as consumer protection, market integrity, financial stability and money laundering.
  • U.S. interagency report on stablecoins recommends that Congress consider new legislation to ensure that stablecoins and stablecoin arrangements are subject to a federal prudential framework. It also proposes additional features, such as limiting issuers to insured depository institutions, subjecting entities conducting stablecoin activities (e.g., digital wallets) to federal oversight, and limiting affiliations between issuers and commercial entities.
  • Revised guidance from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on virtual assets and virtual asset service providers (VASPs) clarifies the application of FATF standards to virtual assets and VASPs. It also introduces new obligations and recommendations for PSAVs, such as the implementation of the travel rule, licensing and registration of PSAVs, and supervision and enforcement of PSAVs.

These regulatory changes could have significant implications for Ledger and other crypto wallets. They could require them to comply with new rules and standards, to obtain new licenses or registrations, to implement new systems and processes, and to face new supervisory and enforcement actions.

Societal changes

Societal changes could influence the perception and adoption of Ledger and cryptocurrencies, such as increased awareness and education, which could increase the trust and popularity of Ledger devices, or increased competition and innovation, which could challenge the position and performance of Ledger devices. For example, the EviSeed NFC HSM technology allows the creation of up to 100 cryptocurrency wallets on 5 different blockchains chosen freely by the user.

Technological alternatives

Technological alternatives are already available, such as EviCore NFC HSM, EviCore HSM OpenPGP, EviCore NFC HSM Browser Extension and the NFC HSM devices that work without contact, developed and manufactured by Freemindtronic in Andorra. These are new cyber security and safety technologies that use HSMs with or without NFC. They offer a wide range of security features to manage your cryptocurrencies and other digital assets. These technologies also offer the hardware management of complex and complicated passwords by EviPass NFC HSM, OTP (2FA) keys by EviOTP NFC HSM, Seed Phrases by EviSeed NFC HSM, and the creation of multiple cryptocurrency wallets on the same device.

Conclusion

Ledger, the French leader in cryptocurrency security, has faced several security breaches since 2017. As a result of these breaches, hackers could steal the private keys and funds of Ledger users. In response to these threats, Ledger reacted by publishing security updates, informing its users, and strengthening its protection measures. However, Ledger users must be vigilant and follow the recommendations of Ledger to protect themselves from these attacks. Despite these challenges, Ledger remains a reliable and secure device to manage cryptocurrencies, as long as the best practices of digital hygiene are respected. If you want to learn more about Ledger and its products, you can visit their official website or read their blog. Additionally, you can also check their security reports and their help center for more information.

TETRA Security Vulnerabilities: How to Protect Critical Infrastructures

TETRA Security Vulnerabilities secured by EviPass or EviCypher NFC HSM Technologies from Freemindtronic-Andorra
TETRA Security Vulnerabilities by Jacques Gascuel: This article will be updated with any new information on the topic.

TETRA Security Vulnerabilities

Tetra is a radio communication standard used by critical sectors worldwide. But it has five security flaws that could expose its encryption and authentication. How can you protect your Tetra system from hackers? Read this article TETRA Security Vulnerabilities to find out the best practices and tips.

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TETRA Security Vulnerabilities: How to Protect Critical Infrastructures from Cyberattacks

TETRA (Terrestrial Trunked Radio) is a radio technology that is used worldwide for critical communications and data, especially in the sectors of security, energy, transport and defense. But this technology, which has been kept secret for more than 25 years, hides serious security vulnerabilities, including a backdoor that could allow devastating cyberattacks.

What is TETRA?

TETRA is a European radio standard that was developed in the 1990s to meet the needs of professional mobile services, such as police, firefighters, emergency services, military, prison staff, etc. TETRA allows to transmit data and voice encrypted on frequencies ranging from 380 to 470 MHz, with a range of several kilometers.

TETRA is used by more than 2000 networks in more than 150 countries, according to the TETRA and Critical Communications Association (TCCA), which brings together the manufacturers, operators and users of this technology. Among the main manufacturers of TETRA radios, we find Motorola Solutions, Hytera, Airbus, Sepura and Rohill.

TETRA offers several advantages over other radio technologies, such as:

  • better sound quality
  • greater transmission capacity
  • greater security thanks to encryption
  • greater flexibility thanks to the possibility of creating communication groups
  • greater interoperability thanks to the compatibility of equipment

Source french: TETRA digital mode & F4HXZ – Blog radioamateur

What are the vulnerabilities of TETRA?

Despite its strengths, TETRA also has weaknesses, which have been revealed by a group of Dutch researchers from Radboud University Nijmegen. These researchers conducted a thorough analysis of the TETRA standard and its encryption algorithms, which were until then kept secret by the manufacturers and authorities.

The researchers discovered two types of major vulnerabilities in TETRA:

  • A backdoor in the encryption algorithm TEA1, which is used in radios sold for sensitive equipment, such as pipelines, railways, power grid, public transport or freight trains. This backdoor allows an attacker to decrypt the communications and data transmitted by these radios, and possibly to modify or block them. The backdoor exists since the creation of the algorithm TEA1, in 1998, and cannot be corrected by a simple software update. The researchers managed to extract the secret key of the backdoor by analyzing the binary code of the radios.
  • A weakness in the encryption algorithm TEA2, which is used in radios intended for professional mobile services, such as police, firefighters, emergency services, military or prison staff. This weakness allows an attacker to reduce the number of possible keys to test to decrypt the communications and data transmitted by these radios. The researchers estimated that it would take about 10 minutes to find the right key with a standard computer. This weakness was corrected by the manufacturers in 2016, but the radios that have not been updated remain vulnerable.

To find the backdoor in the TEA1 algorithm, the researchers used a technique called “differential analysis”, which consists of comparing the outputs of the algorithm for slightly different inputs. By observing the differences, they were able to identify a part of the code that was not normally used, but that was activated by a special condition. This condition was the presence of a secret key of 64 bits, which was hidden in the binary code of the radios. By analyzing the code, they were able to extract the secret key and test it on encrypted communications with the TEA1 algorithm. They were thus able to confirm that the secret key allowed to decrypt the communications without knowing the normal key of 80 bits. The researchers published their official report and the source code of the TETRA encryption algorithms on their website.

Source: https://cs.ru.nl/~cmeijer/publications/All_cops_are_broadcasting_TETRA_under_scrutiny.pdf

What are the risks for critical infrastructures?

The vulnerabilities identified in TETRA represent a danger for the critical infrastructures that use this technology, because they could be exploited by cybercriminals, terrorists or spies to disrupt or damage these infrastructures.

For example, an attacker could:

  • listen to the communications and confidential data of the security or defense services
  • impersonate an operator or a manager to give false instructions or orders
  • modify or erase data or commands that control vital equipment, such as valves, switches, signals or brakes
  • cause failures, accidents, fires or explosions

These scenarios could have dramatic consequences on the security, health, economy or environment of the countries concerned.

How to protect yourself from cyberattacks on TETRA?

The users of TETRA must be aware of the vulnerabilities of this technology and take measures to protect themselves from potential cyberattacks. Among the recommendations of the researchers, we can mention:

  • check if the radios used are affected by the vulnerabilities and ask the manufacturers for correction solutions
  • avoid using the algorithm TEA1, which contains the backdoor, and prefer safer algorithms, such as TEA3 or TEA4
  • use encryption keys that are long and complex enough, and change them regularly
  • set up verification and authentication procedures for communications and data
  • monitor the radio traffic and detect anomalies or intrusion attempts
  • raise awareness and train staff on cybersecurity and good practices

TETRA digital mode: how to transfer data via TETRA

TETRA (Terrestrial Trunked Radio) is a digital and secure radio communication standard used by emergency services, law enforcement, public transport and industries. TETRA uses a π/4-DQPSK phase modulation and a TDMA time division multiplexing to transmit voice and data on a bandwidth of 25 KHz per transmission channel. Each channel is divided into four timeslots, one of which is reserved for signaling in trunked mode (TMO).

TETRA allows file transfer via radio in two ways: by the packet data service (PDS) or by the circuit data service (CDS).

The PDS uses the IP protocol to transmit data packets on one or more timeslots. It offers a maximum throughput of 28.8 kbit/s per timeslot, or 86.4 kbit/s for three timeslots. The PDS can be used to send small files, such as images, text messages or forms.

The CDS uses the LAPD protocol to transmit data by circuit on a dedicated timeslot. It offers a constant throughput of 4.8 kbit/s per timeslot, or 19.2 kbit/s for four timeslots. The CDS can be used to send large files, such as documents, videos or maps.

The choice of the data service depends on the type of file, the size of the file, the quality of the radio link, the cost and the availability of radio resources. The PDS offers more flexibility and performance, but it requires a good signal quality and it can be more expensive in terms of battery consumption and spectrum occupation. The CDS offers more reliability and simplicity, but it requires a prior allocation of a timeslot and it can be slower and less efficient.

Securing TETRA file transfers with Freemindtronic’s EviCypher technology

However, both data services are subject to the TETRA security vulnerabilities that we have discussed in the previous sections. These vulnerabilities could allow an attacker to intercept, modify or corrupt the files transferred via TETRA, or to prevent their transmission altogether. Therefore, the users of TETRA must ensure the integrity and the confidentiality of the files they send or receive, by using encryption, verification and authentication methods. Freemindtronic’s EviCypher technology can be a valuable solution for encrypting data with post-quantum AES-256 from an NFC HSM with your own randomly generated keys before transferring them via TETRA. This way, even if an attacker corrupts the data transmitted by TETRA, they will not be able to decrypt the data encrypted by a product embedding

How to secure file transfers via TETRA with Freemindtronic’s EviCypher technology

La technologie EviCypher de Freemindtronic peut être une solution précieuse pour chiffrer les données avec AES-256 post-quantique à partir d’un HSM NFC avec vos propres clés générées aléatoirement avant de les transférer via TETRA. Ainsi, même si un attaquant corrompt les données transmises par TETRA, il ne pourra pas décrypter les données cryptées par un produit embarquant la technologie EviCypher NFC HSM technology, such as DataShielder NFC HSM or DataSielder Defense NFC HSM. These products are portable and autonomous devices that allow you to secure the access to computer systems, applications or online services, using the NFC as a means of authentication and encryption.

The management of encryption keys for TETRA

To use encryption on the TETRA network, you need an encryption key, which is a secret code of 80 bits, or 10 bytes. This key must be shared between the radios that want to communicate securely, and must be protected against theft, loss or compromise.

There are several methods to save and enter encryption keys for TETRA, depending on the type of radio and the level of security required. Here are some examples:

  • The manual method: it consists of entering the encryption key using the keyboard of the radio, by typing the 10 bytes in hexadecimal form. This method is simple, but impractical and unsafe, because it requires to know the key by heart or to write it down on a support, which increases the risk of disclosure or error. For example, a 80-bit key could be 3A4F9C7B12E8D6F0.
  • The automatic method: it consists of using an external device, such as a computer or a smart card, which generates and transfers the encryption key to the radio by a cable or a wireless link. This method is faster and more reliable, but it requires to have a compatible and secure device, and to connect it to the radio at each key change.
  • The EviPass method: it consists of using the EviPass NFC HSM technology which allows to generate, store and manage keys and secrets in a secure and independent NFC HSM device. This method is the most innovative and secure, because it allows to create keys higher than 80 bits randomly in hexadecimal base 16, 58, 64 or 85, to store them in a physical device protected by an access code and a robust AES-256 post-quantum encryption algorithm, and to transfer them by various contactless means, via a computer. This method does not require to know or write down the key, which reduces the risk of disclosure or error. For example, a 10-byte key of 80 bits could be 3F 8A 6B 4C 9D 1E 7F 2A 5B 0C.

The EviPass NFC HSM technology of Freemindtronic allows to create secure gateways between the NFC devices and the computer systems, using advanced encryption protocols, such as AES, RSA or ECC. The EviPass NFC HSM technology is embedded in the PassCyber NFC HSM product, which is a portable and autonomous device that allows to secure the access to computer systems, applications or online or offligne services, using the NFC as a means of authentication.

Conclusion

TETRA is a radio technology that was designed to offer secure and reliable communication to professional mobile services and critical infrastructures. But this technology, which has been kept secret for decades, presents vulnerabilities that could be exploited by cyberattackers to compromise these communications and infrastructures. The users of TETRA must be vigilant and take measures to protect themselves from these threats, by updating their equipment, choosing robust encryption algorithms, using strong keys, verifying and authenticating data and monitoring radio traffic. The EviPass NFC HSM technology of Freemindtronic can be an effective solution to strengthen the security of keys and secrets used for verification and authentication, by storing them in a secure and independent NFC device. The researchers who revealed the vulnerabilities of TETRA hope that their work will contribute to improve the security of communications in critical domains.

FormBook Malware: How to Protect Your Gmail and Other Data

FormBook Malware: how to protect your gmail and other data
Protect your Gmail Account FormBook malware – Jacques Gascuel: This article will be updated with any new information on the topic.

Secure Your Gmail from FormBook Attacks

FormBook is a malware that can steal your Gmail credentials, messages, and attachments. Learn how to use the Freemindtronic devices to encrypt your Gmail data and use passwordless and 2FA.

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How to Protect Your Gmail Account from FormBook Malware

Introduction

Imagine that you receive an email from your bank, asking you to confirm your identity by clicking on a link. You open the link, and you find yourself on a page that looks like your bank’s website, but it is actually a fake. You enter your credentials, and you think you are done. But in reality, you have just given access to your bank account to hackers, who will use it to steal your money, or worse. This is what FormBook can do, a malware that can steal your sensitive data, and that Google cannot stop. In this article, we will explain what FormBook is, how it works, and how to protect yourself from this malware.

What is FormBook and why is it a threat?

FormBook is a malware that can record your keystrokes, take screenshots, and steal your passwords, cookies, and clipboard data. It can also download and execute other malicious files on your device.

FormBook is distributed through phishing emails that contain malicious attachments. These attachments are usually disguised as invoices, receipts, or shipping confirmations. When you open them, they ask you to enable macros or content. If you do, the malware will be installed on your device.

FormBook can target any web browser, but it has a special feature for Chrome. It can inject a fake Gmail login page into your browser, and trick you into entering your credentials. The malware will then send your Gmail username and password to a remote server controlled by the hackers.

FormBook is a threat because it can compromise your Gmail account and access your personal and professional information. It can also use your Gmail account to send spam or phishing emails to your contacts, or to access other online services that are linked to your Gmail account, such as Google Drive, Google Photos, or Google Pay.

How to protect yourself from FormBook?

Google has not yet found a way to detect and block FormBook. Therefore, you need to be extra careful when you use Gmail and other online services. Here are some tips to protect yourself from FormBook and other malware:

  • Do not open or download attachments from unknown or suspicious senders. If you are not sure about the legitimacy of an email, contact the sender directly or check the official website of the company or organization.
  • Do not enable macros or content in any document unless you trust the source. Macros are small programs that can run malicious code on your device.
  • Use a strong and unique password for your Gmail account and other online accounts. Do not reuse the same password for different services. Change your password regularly and use a password manager to store and generate your passwords.
  • Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) for your Gmail account and other online accounts. 2FA adds an extra layer of security by requiring a code or a device confirmation in addition to your password.
  • Use a reputable antivirus software and keep it updated. Antivirus software can scan your device for malware and remove it. You can also use a browser extension that can block malicious websites and pop-ups.

How to encrypt your Gmail messages and attachments with DataShielder NFC HSM

DataShielder NFC HSM is a device that allows you to encrypt and decrypt your Gmail messages and attachments with your own encryption keys that you create and store offline. It uses the EviCypher NFC HSM technology, which is a contactless hardware security module (NFC HSM) that won the Gold Medal for International Inventions in Geneva on March 2021.

With DataShielder NFC HSM, you can encrypt and decrypt your data with AES-256 keys that are randomly generated and stored in the NFC HSM. You can store up to 100 keys and one pair of RSA-4096 keys in the NFC HSM. You can also use different keys for the message and the attachment.

To encrypt your Gmail message and attachment, you need to use the EviCrypt and EviFile applications that are embedded in the DataShielder NFC HSM. These applications allow you to encrypt and decrypt your data with a simple tap of your NFC phone on the DataShielder NFC HSM. You can also share your encrypted data with other users who have the same device and the same key.

By using DataShielder NFC HSM, you can protect your Gmail messages and attachments from FormBook or any other malware that can access your Gmail account. Even if your Gmail account is hacked, your encrypted data will remain encrypted and unreadable by the hackers. Only you and the authorized recipients can decrypt your data with the DataShielder NFC HSM.

How to protect your web Gmail account with passwordless and 2FA using PassCypher NFC HSM

Do you want to manage your web accounts with complicated and complex passwords that you do not need to know, remember, or type? If yes, then you should try PassCypher NFC HSM. This device uses the EviPass NFC HSM technology, which is a contactless hardware password manager that won the Silver Medal for International Inventions in Geneva on March 2021.

With PassCypher NFC HSM, you can create and store your usernames and passwords of more than 256-bit in the NFC HSM. Moreover, you can store your OTP TOTP or HOTP secret keys in the NFC HSM to generate the 2FA code for your web accounts. The NFC HSM can store up to 100 web accounts and one pair of RSA-4096 keys.

To use PassCypher NFC HSM, you need to install the Freemindtronic extension for your web browser based on Chromium or Firefox. This extension uses the EviCore NFC HSM Browser technology, which allows you to communicate with the NFC HSM via your NFC phone. You also need to use the EviPass and EviOTP applications that are embedded in the PassCypher NFC HSM. These applications allow you to create, edit, and delete your web accounts and OTP secret keys with a simple tap of your NFC phone on the PassCypher NFC HSM.

By using PassCypher NFC HSM, you can secure your web accounts with passwordless and 2FA. You do not need to display, know, or type your username and password. You just need to tap your NFC phone on the PassCypher NFC HSM and the extension will autofill and auto login your web account. You also do not need to check for a typosquatting attack, since the extension will verify the URL of the website before logging in. And you do not need to use another device or application to generate the 2FA code, since the PassCypher NFC HSM will do it for you.

How to protect your Gmail account from FormBook with PassCypher NFC HSM

FormBook is a dangerous malware that can access your Gmail account and other sensitive data. Google has not yet found a solution to stop it. Therefore, you need to be vigilant and follow the best practices to protect yourself from cyberattacks. One of them is to use PassCypher NFC HSM to secure your Gmail account with passwordless and 2FA.

By using PassCypher NFC HSM, you can protect your Gmail account from FormBook or any other malware that can access your web browser. Even if your web browser is hacked, your usernames and passwords will remain encrypted and inaccessible by the hackers. Only you can decrypt your Gmail account with the PassCypher NFC HSM. And even if the hackers manage to steal your session cookies, they will not be able to log in to your Gmail account without the 2FA code that is generated by the PassCypher NFC HSM.

To use PassCypher NFC HSM with your Gmail account, you need to follow these steps:

  • Create a Gmail account in the EviPass application on the PassCypher NFC HSM. You can use the default username and password, or you can generate a random and complex password with the EviPass application.
  • Enable 2FA for your Gmail account on the Google website.
  • Choose the option to use an authenticator app, and scan the QR code with the EviOTP application on the PassCypher NFC HSM. This will store your OTP secret key in the NFC HSM.
  • Log in to your Gmail account with the Freemindtronic extension on your web browser. Tap your NFC phone on the PassCypher NFC HSM and the extension will autofill and auto login your Gmail account. You will also see a pop-up window with the 2FA code that you need to enter on the Google website.

By following these steps, you can use PassCypher NFC HSM to secure your Gmail account with passwordless and 2FA. You can also use PassCypher NFC HSM with other web accounts that support 2FA, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Amazon. This way, you can protect yourself from FormBook and other malware that can access your web browser.

Recent statistics on FormBook

FormBook is a malware that was first discovered in 2016, but it remains very active and dangerous. According to the Check Point report on cybersecurity in 2022, FormBook was the third most widespread malware in 2021, attacking 5% of enterprise networks. It was also the most prolific infostealer malware, accounting for 16% of attacks worldwide.

FormBook spreads mainly through phishing emails that contain malicious attachments. These attachments are often RAR self-extracting archives, which are compressed files that can run malicious code when opened. The RAR files contain a legitimate document, such as a PDF or a Word file, and a hidden executable file, which is the FormBook malware. When the user opens the RAR file, the document is displayed, but the malware is also installed in the background.

FormBook can also spread through other methods, such as drive-by downloads, malicious links, or removable media. The malware can infect any Windows device, from Windows XP to Windows 10. The malware can also evade detection and removal by using various techniques, such as encryption, obfuscation, or anti-analysis.

Here are some recent statistics on FormBook, based on the data from Check Point and ANY.RUN:

  • FormBook was the most popular malware in August 2021, affecting 4.5% of organizations worldwide, followed by Trickbot and Agent Tesla, affecting respectively 4% and 3% of organizations worldwide.
  • FormBook was the fourth most common malware in 2020, according to the ranking of malware families by ANY.RUN. It accounted for 8% of the samples analyzed by the online sandboxing service.
  • FormBook was used in many phishing campaigns targeting various industries, such as defense, aerospace, health, education, finance, retail, etc. It was also used to attack Ukrainian targets during the war between Russia and Ukraine in 2022.
  • FormBook has a successor called XLoader, which appeared in 2020 and which is able to infect macOS users. XLoader is sold on the dark web for $59 for a Windows license and $49 for a macOS license.

Danger level of FormBook compared to other malware

FormBook is a very dangerous malware, because it can steal sensitive information, such as credentials, passwords, credit card numbers, 2FA codes, etc. It can also download and execute other malware, such as ransomware, banking trojans, spyware, etc. It can also remotely control the infected device and perform various malicious actions, such as deleting browser cookies, taking screenshots, restarting or shutting down the system, etc.

FormBook is also hard to detect and remove, because it uses advanced evasion techniques, such as code injection, string obfuscation, data encryption, anti-analysis, etc. It also changes frequently its name, path, and file extension, and uses random Windows registry keys to maintain its persistence.

To compare the danger level of FormBook with other known malware in its category, we can use the following criteria:

  • The number of organizations affected worldwide
  • The type and amount of information stolen
  • The ability to download and execute other malware
  • The ability to remotely control the infected device
  • The evasion techniques used
  • The ease of detection and removal

Here is a table that compares FormBook with other popular infostealer malware, such as Trickbot, Agent Tesla, LokiBot, and Raccoon:

Malware Number of organizations affected Type and amount of information stolen Ability to download and execute other malware Ability to remotely control the infected device Evasion techniques used Ease of detection and removal
FormBook 4.5% in August 2021 Credentials, passwords, credit card numbers, 2FA codes, screenshots, keystrokes, etc. Yes Yes Code injection, string obfuscation, data encryption, anti-analysis, etc. Hard
Trickbot 4% in August 2021 Credentials, passwords, banking information, personal data, etc. Yes Yes Code injection, string obfuscation, data encryption, anti-analysis, etc. Hard
Agent Tesla 3% in August 2021 Credentials, passwords, banking information, personal data, screenshots, keystrokes, etc. No Yes String obfuscation, data encryption, anti-analysis, etc. Medium
LokiBot 1.5% in August 2021 Credentials, passwords, banking information, personal data, etc. No Yes String obfuscation, data encryption, anti-analysis, etc. Medium
Raccoon 0.8% in August 2021 Credentials, passwords, banking information, personal data, etc. No Yes String obfuscation, data encryption, anti-analysis, etc. Medium

From this table, we can see that FormBook is the most dangerous infostealer malware, because it affects the most organizations, steals the most types of information, and can download and execute other malware. It is also the hardest to detect and remove, because it uses more evasion techniques than the other malware.

Forms of attacks of FormBook

FormBook can be delivered through different forms of attacks, depending on the delivery mechanism chosen by the malicious actor. Here are some forms of attacks of FormBook:

  • Phishing: FormBook can be sent by email as a malicious attachment, such as a Word, Excel, PDF, or ZIP or RAR file. The email can have a misleading subject, such as an invoice, a receipt, a contract, a job offer, etc. When the user opens the attachment, the malware runs and infects the device.
  • Exploitation of vulnerabilities: FormBook can exploit vulnerabilities in popular software, such as Microsoft Office, Windows, Adobe Reader, etc. For example, FormBook used the vulnerability CVE-2017-8570 in Microsoft Office to run malicious code from a RTF file. FormBook also used the vulnerability CVE-2021-40444 in Microsoft MSHTML to run malicious code from a CAB file.
  • Drive-by downloads: FormBook can be downloaded without the user’s knowledge when they visit a compromised or malicious website. The website can use a script or an exploit kit to trigger the download and execution of the malware on the user’s device.
  • Removable media: FormBook can be copied to removable media, such as USB drives, external hard drives, memory cards, etc. When the user connects the removable media to their device, the malware runs automatically and infects the device.
  • Social media: FormBook can be spread by messages or posts on social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. These messages or posts can contain links or images that redirect to malicious websites or infected files. When the user clicks on the link or image, the malware is downloaded and executed on their device.

Here is a type of formbook malware attacks image:

Type of Formbook MalwareAttacks

How PassCypher NFC HSM and DataShielder NFC HSM can protect you from FormBook attacks

PassCypher NFC HSM and DataShielder NFC HSM are two devices that use the EviPass NFC HSM technology from Freemindtronic, which is a contactless hardware password manager that won the Silver Medal for International Inventions in Geneva on March 2021. These devices can help you protect your web accounts and your Gmail messages and attachments from FormBook attacks, by using passwordless, 2FA, and encryption.

PassCypher NFC HSM can create and store your usernames and passwords of more than 256-bit in the NFC HSM. It can also store your OTP TOTP or HOTP secret keys in the NFC HSM to generate the 2FA code for your web accounts. The NFC HSM can store up to 100 web accounts and one pair of RSA-4096 keys.

DataShielder NFC HSM can encrypt and decrypt your Gmail messages and attachments with your own encryption keys that you create and store offline. It uses the EviCypher NFC HSM technology, which is a contactless hardware security module (NFC HSM) that won the Gold Medal for International Inventions in Geneva on March 2021. It can store up to 100 keys and one pair of RSA-4096 keys in the NFC HSM.

To use PassCypher NFC HSM and DataShielder NFC HSM, you need to install the Freemindtronic extension for your web browser based on Chromium or Firefox. This extension uses the EviCore NFC HSM Browser technology, which allows you to communicate with the NFC HSM via your NFC phone. You also need to use the EviPass, EviOTP, EviCrypt, and EviFile applications that are embedded in the PassCypher NFC HSM and DataShielder NFC HSM. These applications allow you to create, edit, delete, encrypt, and decrypt your web accounts, OTP secret keys, messages, and attachments with a simple tap of your NFC phone on the PassCypher NFC HSM or DataShielder NFC HSM.

By using PassCypher NFC HSM and DataShielder NFC HSM, you can secure your web accounts and your Gmail messages and attachments with passwordless, 2FA, and encryption. You do not need to display, know, or type your username, password, or encryption key. You just need to tap your NFC phone on the PassCypher NFC HSM or DataShielder NFC HSM and the extension will autofill, auto login, encrypt, or decrypt your web account, message, or attachment. You also do not need to use another device or application to generate the 2FA code, since the PassCypher NFC HSM will do it for you.

Here is a table that shows how PassCypher NFC HSM and DataShielder NFC HSM can protect you from different FormBook attack vectors, such as keylogger, password stealer, file transfer, screenshot, etc. I used a check mark or a cross mark to show visually what PassCypher NFC HSM and DataShielder NFC HSM protect.

 

FormBook PassCypher DataShielder
Keylogger ✔️ ✔️
Password stealer ✔️ ✔️
File transfer ✔️
Screenshot ✔️ ✔️
Remote control
Phishing ✔️ ✔️
Exploit kit
Drive-by download
Removable media ✔️
Social media

This table shows that PassCypher NFC HSM and DataShielder NFC HSM can protect your web accounts from FormBook’s keylogger, password stealer, and phishing, by using passwordless and 2FA. They can also protect your Gmail messages and attachments from FormBook’s file transfer and screenshot, by using encryption and decryption. DataShielder NFC HSM can also protect your data stored in computers or removable media, by using encryption and decryption. However, neither device can protect your device from FormBook’s remote control, exploit kit, drive-by download, or unsecured social media, which can compromise your system and your data. Therefore, you should also use an antivirus software and a firewall to prevent FormBook from accessing your device.

Dual-Use Encryption Products: a regulated trade for security and human rights

Dual-Use encryption products a regulated trade for security and human rights by Freemindtronic-from Andorra
Dual-use encryption products by Jacques Gascuel: This article will be updated with any new information on the topic.

Dual-use encryption products: a challenge for security and human rights

Encryption is a technique that protects data and communications. Encryption products are dual-use goods, which can have civilian and military uses. The export of these products is controlled by the EU and the international community, to prevent their misuse or diversion. This article explains the EU regime for the export of dual-use encryption products, and how it has been updated.

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The international regulations on dual-use encryption products

The main international regulations that apply to dual-use encryption products are the Wassenaar Arrangement and the EU regime for the control of exports of dual-use goods.

The Wassenaar Arrangement

The Wassenaar Arrangement is a multilateral export control regime that aims to contribute to regional and international security and stability. It promotes transparency and responsibility in the transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies. It was established in 1996 and currently has 42 participating states, including the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, Russia, China and most of the EU member states.

The Wassenaar Arrangement maintains a list of dual-use goods and technologies that are subject to export control by the participating states. The list is divided into 10 categories, with subcategories and items. Category 5, part 2, covers information security, including encryption products. The list of encryption products includes, among others, the following items:

  • Cryptographic systems, equipment, components and software, using symmetric or asymmetric algorithms, with a key length exceeding 56 bits for symmetric algorithms or 512 bits for asymmetric algorithms, or specially designed for military or intelligence use.
  • Cryptanalytic systems, equipment, components and software, capable of recovering the plain text from the encrypted text, or of finding cryptographic keys or algorithms.
  • Cryptographic development systems, equipment, components and software, capable of generating, testing, modifying or evaluating cryptographic algorithms, keys or systems.
  • Non-cryptographic information security systems, equipment, components and software, using techniques such as steganography, watermarking, tamper resistance or authentication.
  • Technology for the development, production or use of the above items.

The participating states of the Wassenaar Arrangement are required to implement national export controls on the items listed in the arrangement, and to report annually their exports and denials of such items. However, the arrangement does not impose binding obligations on the participating states, and each state is free to decide whether to grant or refuse an export license, based on its own policies and national interests.

The EU regime for the control of exports of dual-use goods

The common legal framework of the EU for dual-use goods

The EU regime for the control of exports of dual-use goods is a common legal framework. It applies to all EU member states, and it has two main goals. First, it aims to ensure a consistent and effective implementation of the international obligations of export control. Second, it aims to protect the security and human rights of the EU and its partners. The regime is based on the Regulation (EU) 2021/821, which was adopted in May 2021 and entered into force in September 2021. This regulation replaces the previous Regulation (EC) No 428/2009.

The Regulation (EU) 2021/821: the principles and criteria of export control

The Regulation (EU) 2021/821 establishes a Union list of dual-use goods. These are goods that can have both civilian and military uses, such as software, equipment and technology. These goods are subject to an export authorization, which means that exporters need to obtain a permission from the competent authorities before exporting them. The Regulation also sets out a set of general principles and criteria for granting or refusing such authorization. The Union list of dual-use goods is based on the international export control regimes, including the Wassenaar Arrangement. It covers the same categories and items as the latter. However, the EU list also includes some additional items that are not covered by the international regimes. These are cyber-surveillance items that can be used for internal repression or human rights violations.

The Union list of dual-use goods: the categories and items subject to an export authorization

The Union list of dual-use goods consists of ten categories, which are:

  • Category 0: Nuclear materials, facilities and equipment
  • Category 1: Materials, chemicals, micro-organisms and toxins
  • Category 2: Materials processing
  • Category 3: Electronics
  • Category 4: Computers
  • Category 5: Telecommunications and information security
  • Category 6: Sensors and lasers
  • Category 7: Navigation and avionics
  • Category 8: Marine
  • Category 9: Aerospace and propulsion

Each category contains a number of items, which are identified by a code and a description. For example, the item 5A002 is “Information security systems, equipment and components”. The items are further divided into sub-items, which are identified by a letter and a number. For example, the sub-item 5A002.a.1 is “Cryptographic activation equipment or software designed or modified to activate cryptographic capability”.

The novelties of the Regulation (EU) 2021/821: the due diligence obligation, the catch-all clause, the human security approach and the transparency and information exchange mechanism

The Regulation (EU) 2021/821 also provides for different types of export authorizations. These are individual, global, general or ad hoc authorizations, depending on the nature, destination and end-use of the items. Moreover, the Regulation introduces some novelties, such as:

  • A due diligence obligation for exporters. This means that exporters have to verify the end-use and the end-user of the items, and to report any suspicious or irregular transaction.
  • A catch-all clause. This allows the competent authorities to impose an export authorization on items that are not listed, but that can be used for weapons of mass destruction, a military end-use, human rights violations or terrorism.
  • A human security approach. This requires the competent authorities to take into account the potential impact of the items on human rights, international humanitarian law, regional stability and sustainable development, especially for cyber-surveillance items.
  • A transparency and information exchange mechanism. This requires the competent authorities to share information on the authorizations, denials and consultations of export, and to publish annual reports on their export control activities.

The dual-use encryption products: sensitive goods for security and human rights

The dual-use encryption products are a specific type of dual-use goods that fall under the category 5 of the Union list. These are products that use cryptographic techniques to protect the confidentiality, integrity and authenticity of data and communications. These products can have both civilian and military uses, and they raise important issues for security and human rights.

The dual-use encryption products: a definition and examples

The dual-use encryption products are defined by the Regulation (EU) 2021/821 as “information security systems, equipment and components, and ‘software’ and ‘technology’ therefor, which use ‘cryptography’ or cryptanalytic functions”. The Regulation also provides a list of examples of such products, such as:

  • Cryptographic activation equipment or software
  • Cryptographic equipment for mobile cellular systems
  • Cryptographic equipment for radio communication systems
  • Cryptographic equipment for computer and network security
  • Cryptanalytic equipment and software
  • Quantum cryptography equipment and software

The dual-use encryption products: security issues

The dual-use encryption products can have a significant impact on the security of the EU and its partners. On the one hand, these products can enhance the security of the EU and its allies, by protecting their sensitive data and communications from unauthorized access, interception or manipulation. On the other hand, these products can also pose a threat to the security of the EU and its adversaries, by enabling the encryption of malicious or illegal activities, such as terrorism, espionage or cyberattacks. Therefore, the export of these products needs to be carefully controlled, to prevent their misuse or diversion to undesirable end-users or end-uses.

The dual-use encryption products: human rights issues

The dual-use encryption products can also have a significant impact on the human rights of the EU and its partners. On the one hand, these products can protect the human rights of the EU and its citizens, by safeguarding their privacy and freedom of expression on the internet. On the other hand, these products can also violate the human rights of the EU and its partners, by enabling the repression or surveillance of dissidents, activists or journalists by authoritarian regimes or non-state actors. Therefore, the export of these products needs to take into account the potential consequences of the items on human rights, international humanitarian law, regional stability and sustainable development, especially for cyber-surveillance items.

The modification of the Union list of dual-use goods by the Delegated Regulation (EU) 2022/1

The Union list of dual-use goods is not static, but dynamic. It is regularly updated to reflect the changes in the technological development and the international security environment. The latest update of the list was made by the Delegated Regulation (EU) 2022/1 of the Commission of 20 October 2021, which modifies the Regulation (EU) 2021/821.

The changes made by the international export control regimes in 2020 and 2021

The Delegated Regulation (EU) 2022/1 reflects the changes made by the international export control regimes in 2020 and 2021. These are the Wassenaar Arrangement, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Australia Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime. These regimes are voluntary and informal arrangements of states that coordinate their national export control policies on dual-use goods. The EU is a member of these regimes, and it aligns its Union list of dual-use goods with their lists of controlled items. The changes made by these regimes include the addition, deletion or modification of some items, as well as the clarification or simplification of some definitions or technical parameters.

The new items added to the Union list of dual-use goods: the quantum technologies, the drones and the facial recognition systems or biometric identification systems

The Delegated Regulation (EU) 2022/1 also adds some new items to the Union list of dual-use goods. These are items that are not covered by the international export control regimes, but that are considered to be sensitive for the security and human rights of the EU and its partners. These items include:

  • Certain types of software and technology for the development, production or use of quantum computers or quantum cryptography. These are devices or techniques that use the principles of quantum physics to perform computations or communications that are faster or more secure than conventional methods.
  • Certain types of equipment, software and technology for the development, production or use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones. These are aircraft or systems that can fly without a human pilot on board, and that can be used for various purposes, such as surveillance, reconnaissance, delivery or attack.
  • Certain types of equipment, software and technology for the development, production or use of facial recognition systems or biometric identification systems. These are systems or techniques that can identify or verify the identity of a person based on their facial features or other biological characteristics, such as fingerprints, iris or voice.

The entry into force and application of the Delegated Regulation (EU) 2022/1

The Delegated Regulation (EU) 2022/1 entered into force on 7 January 2022. It applies to all exports of dual-use goods from the EU from that date. The exporters of dual-use goods need to be aware of the changes and updates to the Union list of dual-use goods, and to comply with the export control rules and procedures established by the Regulation (EU) 2021/821. The competent authorities of the member states need to implement and enforce the new Union list of dual-use goods, and to cooperate and coordinate with each other and with the Commission. The Commission needs to monitor and evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the new Union list of dual-use goods, and to report to the European Parliament and the Council.

The national regulations on dual-use encryption products

How some countries have their own rules on dual-use encryption products

The case of the United States

Some countries have their own national regulations on dual-use encryption products, which may differ or complement the existing regimes. For example, the United States has a complex and strict export control system, based on the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). The EAR classify encryption products under category 5, part 2, of the Commerce Control List (CCL). The EAR require an export license for most encryption products, except for some exceptions, such as mass market products, publicly available products, or products intended for certain countries or end-users. The EAR also require that exporters submit annual self-classification reports, semi-annual sales reports, and encryption review requests for certain products.

The case of Andorra

Andorra is a small country between France and Spain. It is not an EU member, but it has a customs union with it. However, this customs union does not cover all products. It only covers those belonging to chapters 25 to 97 of the Harmonized System (HS), which are mainly industrial products. Agricultural products and products belonging to chapters 1 to 24 of the HS are free of import duties in the EU. But they are subject to the most-favored-nation (MFN) treatment in Andorra.

Andorra has adopted the EU list of dual-use goods. It requires an export or transfer authorization for these goods, according to the Regulation (EU) 2021/821. This regulation came into force on 9 September 2021 and replaced the previous Regulation (EC) No 428/2009. Andorra has also adopted the necessary customs provisions for the proper functioning of the customs union with the EU. These provisions are based on the Community Customs Code and its implementing provisions, by the Decision No 1/2003 of the Customs Cooperation Committee.

Andorra applies the EU regulation, as it is part of the internal market. Moreover, Andorra has adopted the Delegated Regulation (EU) 2022/1 of the Commission of 20 October 2021, which modifies the EU list of dual-use goods. This modification reflects the changes made by the international export control regimes in 2020 and 2021. It also adds some new items, such as software and technologies for quantum computing, drones or facial recognition. The Delegated Regulation (EU) 2022/1 came into force on 7 January 2022, and applies to all exports of dual-use goods from the EU from that date.

Andorra entered the security and defense sector for the first time by participating in Eurosatory 2022. This is the international reference exhibition for land and airland defense and security. Andorra became the 96th country with a security and defense industry on its territory. Among the exhibitors, an Andorran company, Freemindtronic, specialized in counter-espionage solutions, presented innovative products. For example, DataShielder Defense NFC HSM, a device to protect sensitive data against physical and logical attacks. It uses technologies such as EviCypher NFC HSM and EviCore NFC HSM, contactless hardware security modules (NFC HSM). The president of Coges events, a subsidiary of GICAT, identified these products as dual-use and military products. They need an export or transfer authorization, according to the Regulation (EU) 2021/821. Freemindtronic also showed its other security solutions, such as EviKey NFC HSM, a secure USB key, a security token. These products were displayed in the Discover Village, a space for start-ups and SMEs innovations.

Switzerland

Switzerland is not an EU member, but it has a free trade agreement with it. Switzerland has adopted the Regulation (EU) 2021/821 by the Ordinance of 5 May 2021 on the control of dual-use goods. Switzerland applies the EU list of dual-use goods and requires an export or transfer authorization for these goods, according to the Regulation (EU) 2021/821. Switzerland has also adopted the Delegated Regulation (EU) 2022/1 of the Commission of 20 October 2021, which modifies the EU list of dual-use goods.

Turkey

Turkey is not an EU member, but it has a customs union with it. Turkey has adopted the Regulation (EU) 2021/821 by the Presidential Decree No 3990 of 9 September 2021 on the control of exports of dual-use goods. Turkey applies the EU list of dual-use goods and requires an export or transfer authorization for these goods, according to the Regulation (EU) 2021/821. Turkey has also adopted the Delegated Regulation (EU) 2022/1 of the Commission of 20 October 2021, which modifies the EU list of dual-use goods.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom left the EU on 31 January 2020. It has adopted the Regulation (EU) 2021/821 by the Dual-Use Items (Export Control) Regulations 2021, which came into force on 9 September 2021. The United Kingdom applies the EU list of dual-use goods and requires an export or transfer authorization for these goods, according to the Regulation (EU) 2021/821. The United Kingdom has also adopted the Delegated Regulation (EU) 2022/1 of the Commission of 20 October 2021, which modifies the EU list of dual-use goods.

The challenges and opportunities for the exporters of dual-use encryption products

The exporters of dual-use encryption products face several challenges and opportunities in the current context of export control regulations. Among the challenges, we can mention:

  • The complexity and diversity of the regulations, which may vary depending on the countries, the products, the destinations and the end-uses, and which require a deep knowledge and a constant monitoring from the exporters.
  • The costs and delays related to the administrative procedures, which can be high and unpredictable, and which can affect the competitiveness and profitability of the exporters, especially for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
  • The legal and reputational risks, which can result from an involuntary or intentional violation of the regulations, or from a misuse or diversion of the products by the end-users, and which can lead to sanctions, prosecutions or damages to the image of the exporters.

Among the opportunities, we can mention:

  • The growing demand and innovation for encryption products, which are increasingly used in many sectors and domains, such as finance, health, education, defense, security, human rights, etc.
  • The contribution to the security and human rights of the exporters, their customers and the general public, by enabling the protection of data, privacy, freedom of expression, access to information and democratic participation, thanks to encryption products.
  • The cooperation with the competent authorities, the civil society and the international community, to ensure the compliance and accountability of the exporters, and to support the development and implementation of effective and balanced encryption policies and regulations, that respect the security and human rights of all stakeholders.

Conclusion

Dual-use encryption products can have both civil and military uses. They are subject to export control regulations at different levels: international, regional and national. These regulations aim to prevent the risks that these products can pose for security and human rights. At the same time, they allow the development and trade of these products. Therefore, the exporters of dual-use encryption products must comply with the regulations that apply to their products. They must also assess the impact of their products on security and human rights. The exporters of dual-use encryption products can benefit from the demand and innovation for these products. These products are essential for the digital economy and society. They can also enhance the security and human rights of the exporters, their customers and the public.

Freemindtronic Andorra is a company that specializes in dual-use encryption products. It offers secure and innovative solutions for data, communication and transaction protection. Freemindtronic Andorra respects the export control regulations that apply to its products. It is also committed to promoting and supporting the responsible and lawful use of its products. It follows the principles of security and human rights. Freemindtronic Andorra cooperates with the authorities, the civil society and the international community. It ensures the transparency and accountability of its activities. It also participates in the development and implementation of effective and balanced encryption policies and regulations. It respects the interests and needs of all stakeholders.

Quantum computing RSA encryption: a threat and a solution

Quantum computing RSA encryption
Quantum computing RSA encryption by Jacques Gascuel: This article will be updated with any new information on the topic.

Quantum computers RSA cryptography: how to secure your data

Quantum computers can break RSA encryption, which secures our online data. But there are solutions that are resistant to quantum attacks. One of them is Freemindtronic, an Andorran company that notably uses NFC HSM technology to share AES-256 keys using RSA-4096 encryption, which quantum computers cannot decipher.

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Quantum computing RSA encryption: a challenge and a solution

Quantum computing RSA encryption is a challenge for online security. Quantum computing is a new way of computing that uses quantum physics. It can do things that classical computers cannot or are too slow to do. One of these things is breaking RSA encryption, which secures data online. RSA encryption is based on the difficulty of factoring large numbers. Quantum computers can factor large numbers faster than classical computers. They use algorithms like Shor’s algorithm, which exploits quantum properties.

However, this threat is not imminent. Building and using quantum computers is still challenging and uncertain. Two recent announcements claimed to have cracked RSA encryption with quantum systems. But they have not been verified. The experts are skeptical and doubtful. They have not provided any evidence or details. They have made unrealistic or too good to be true claims. They have not been peer-reviewed or reproduced.

What is RSA encryption?

RSA encryption is a type of asymmetric encryption. It uses two keys: a public key and a private key. The public key can be shared with anyone, but the private key must be kept secret. They are mathematically related, but it is very hard to find the private key from the public key.

How does RSA encryption work?

RSA encryption uses large prime numbers to generate the keys. The public key and the private key are based on the product of two prime numbers. It is easy to multiply two prime numbers, but very hard to factor their product. For example, 17 x 23 = 391, but finding that 391 = 17 x 23 is much harder.

RSA encryption uses keys that are 2048 or 4096 bits long. These are numbers that have 2048 or 4096 binary digits (0 or 1). They are so large that it would take billions of years for a classical computer to factor them. Therefore, RSA encryption is very secure and widely used for online security.

What is quantum computing and how does it work?

Quantum computing is a new way of computing that uses quantum physics. It can do things that classical computers cannot or are too slow to do. Here is how it works:

  • Qubits: Quantum computers use quantum bits, or qubits. They can be 0 or 1, or both at the same time. This is called superposition. When we measure a qubit, it becomes either 0 or 1. This gives us more information than a classical bit, which is always 0 or 1.
  • Entanglement: Quantum computers can also use entanglement. This is when two qubits share a quantum state and affect each other, even if they are far apart. This allows us to manipulate multiple qubits at once and create complex quantum states.
  • Parallelism: Quantum computers can use these properties to perform parallel computations. This means they can do many calculations at the same time, using fewer qubits than classical bits. This can speed up some tasks that are hard for classical computers.

One of these tasks is breaking RSA encryption, which is based on factoring large numbers. Quantum computers can use a quantum algorithm, called Shor’s algorithm, to factor large numbers faster than classical computers. This can break RSA encryption by finding the private key from the public key. However, this requires a quantum computer with many qubits and low errors, which we do not have yet.

Quantum computing RSA encryption: a challenge and a solution

The ability to find an RSA private key from its public key by a quantum computer poses a serious threat to online security. However, this threat is not imminent, as there are still many challenges and uncertainties in building and using quantum computers. Two recent announcements have claimed to have cracked RSA encryption with quantum systems, but they have not been verified and have been met with skepticism and doubt from the experts. They have not provided any evidence or details of their work. They have made assumptions and claims that seem unrealistic or too good to be true. They have not been peer-reviewed or reproduced by other sources.

How quantum computers can break RSA encryption

RSA encryption is a type of asymmetric encryption. It uses two keys: a public key and a private key. The public key can be shared with anyone, but the private key must be kept secret. They are mathematically related, but it is very hard to find the private key from the public key.

RSA encryption uses large prime numbers to generate the keys. The public key and the private key are based on the product of two prime numbers. It is easy to multiply two prime numbers, but very hard to factor their product. For example, 17 x 23 = 391, but finding that 391 = 17 x 23 is much harder.

RSA encryption uses keys that are 2048 or 4096 bits long. These are numbers that have 2048 or 4096 binary digits (0 or 1). They are so large that it would take billions of years for a classical computer to factor them. Therefore, RSA encryption is very secure and widely used for online security.

Quantum computers can break RSA encryption by finding the prime factors of the composite number that is used to generate the public and private keys. Once the prime factors are known, the private key can be easily calculated from the public key, and the encrypted messages can be decrypted. Quantum computers can use a quantum algorithm, called Shor’s algorithm, to factor large numbers faster than classical computers. Shor’s algorithm can factor a large number in polynomial time, which means that the time it takes to factor a number grows relatively slowly as the number gets larger. In contrast, the best classical algorithms for factoring are exponential, which means that the time it takes to factor a number grows very fast as the number gets larger.

Two claims of breaking RSA encryption with quantum systems

Two recent announcements have raised concerns about quantum computing RSA encryption. One is from a team of Chinese researchers, who published a paper on arXiv in December 2022. They claim to have found a faster way to break RSA encryption with a quantum computer of 372 qubits. They combine a classical algorithm, called Schnorr’s algorithm, with a quantum algorithm, called QAOA (Quantum Approximate Optimization Algorithm). Schnorr’s algorithm is a method of factoring large numbers that uses a probabilistic approach and a lattice reduction technique. QAOA is a method of finding approximate solutions to optimization problems using a quantum computer.

The researchers say that by applying QAOA to the most computationally intensive step of Schnorr’s algorithm, they can reduce the number of qubits and the number of operations needed to factor a large number. They also say that they tested their method on a 10-qubit quantum computer and succeeded in factoring a 48-bit number. They extrapolate that their method can scale to factor a 2048-bit number, which is the standard for RSA encryption.

The other announcement is from a researcher named Ed Gerck, who posted on LinkedIn in November 2023. He claims to have decrypted RSA-2048 encryption, the most used public-key algorithm, with a quantum system implementable on a smartphone or a PC running Linux. He says that he developed a quantum algorithm that can calculate prime numbers faster than Shor’s algorithm and that he proved several mathematical conjectures, such as Goldbach’s conjecture. He published an excerpt of his work, but has not provided any proof or detail of his method.

Both announcements are not verified and have been met with skepticism and doubt from the experts. They have not provided any evidence or details of their work. They have made assumptions and claims that seem unrealistic or too good to be true. They have not been peer-reviewed or reproduced by other sources.

Quantum computing RSA encryption: possible solutions

How to protect RSA encryption from quantum attacks?

However, this announcement is not yet verified, and it raises many questions in the scientific community. It is therefore premature to draw hasty conclusions, and we must wait for the publication of the evidence of his work. It is also possible that RSA encryption can be adapted to resist quantum attacks, for example by increasing the length of the keys, or by using masking techniques. In addition, there are alternatives to RSA encryption, supposed to be more robust against quantum computing. These are post-quantum cryptography algorithms, based on other mathematical problems that are difficult to solve for quantum computers. Post-quantum cryptography is a very active field of research, which aims to anticipate the threats that quantum computers would pose to the security of communications. There are several potential candidates to replace RSA encryption, but they must be evaluated and compared in order to choose the most suitable ones for different needs and constraints. The NIST has launched an international competition to select and standardize the best post-quantum encryption algorithms, which should be ready by 2024.

What are the alternatives to RSA encryption?

Some of the alternatives to RSA encryption that are considered to be more resistant to quantum attacks are:

  • Lattice-based cryptography: This is based on the hardness of finding the shortest vector in a high-dimensional lattice, or the closest vector to a given point. Lattice-based cryptography has the advantage of being fast, versatile, and allowing for advanced features such as homomorphic encryption and digital signatures. Some examples of lattice-based algorithms are NTRU, BLISS, and NewHope.
  • Code-based cryptography: This is based on the hardness of decoding a general linear code, or finding the error vector in a noisy transmission. Code-based cryptography has the advantage of being simple, efficient, and having a long history of security analysis. Some examples of code-based algorithms are McEliece, Niederreiter, and BIKE.
  • Multivariate cryptography: This is based on the hardness of solving a system of multivariate polynomial equations over a finite field. Multivariate cryptography has the advantage of being compact, flexible, and allowing for various applications such as encryption, signatures, and identification. Some examples of multivariate algorithms are Rainbow, HFE, and GeMSS.
  • Hash-based cryptography: This is based on the hardness of finding collisions or preimages for a cryptographic hash function. Hash-based cryptography has the advantage of being simple, provably secure, and relying on minimal assumptions. Some examples of hash-based algorithms are XMSS, SPHINCS, and LMS.

How Freemindtronic protects data with RSA-4096 and NFC technology

Freemindtronic is an Andorran company that specializes in security and cybersecurity of information and computer systems. It designs and develops products and services based on NFC (Near Field Communication) technology, which allows wireless communication at short distance.

The HSM of Freemindtronic: devices that store and protect cryptographic keys

One of the products of Freemindtronic is the HSM (Hardware Security Module), which is a device that stores and protects cryptographic keys. The HSM of Freemindtronic uses two technologies: EviCore HSM OpenPGP and EviCore NFC HSM.

  • EviCore HSM OpenPGP is an implementation of the OpenPGP standard, an open standard for encryption and signature of data. It can manage symmetric and asymmetric encryption keys, both standard and OpenPGP. It can also create HSM on any type of storage device, such as key store, key chain, SD card, SSD, USB drive, NAS, cloud, etc. It can work in fixed, offline, or online mode (LAN/WAN).
  • EviCore NFC HSM is a technology that allows to share AES-256 standard keys using RSA-4096 standard encryption. It works without contact with NFC HSM, which use a pair of RSA-4096 keys for secret sharing (AES-256 encryption keys).

The AES-256 standard: a type of symmetric encryption with high level of security

The AES-256 standard is a type of symmetric encryption, which means that it uses the same key to encrypt and decrypt messages. The AES-256 standard offers a high level of security, as it uses keys that are 256 bits long, which are very hard to crack by brute force. The AES-256 standard is widely used for encrypting data and communications, such as files, emails, or messages.

The RSA-4096 encryption: a type of asymmetric encryption that protects the AES-256 keys from quantum attacks

However, the AES-256 standard requires that the key be securely transmitted between the sender and the receiver, without being intercepted, modified, or forged by an attacker. This is where the RSA-4096 encryption comes in, as it provides a way to protect the AES-256 keys from quantum attacks.

The RSA-4096 encryption is a type of asymmetric encryption, which means that it uses two different keys to encrypt and decrypt messages: a public key and a private key. The public key can be shared with anyone, while the private key must be kept secret. The RSA-4096 encryption uses keys that are 4096 bits long, which are out of reach of the current or future quantum computers. The RSA-4096 encryption can encrypt the AES-256 keys with the public key of the receiver, and decrypt them with the private key of the receiver. Thus, only the receiver can access the AES-256 keys, and use them to encrypt or decrypt the messages. The RSA-4096 encryption can also sign the AES-256 keys with the private key of the sender, and verify them with the public key of the sender. Thus, the receiver can ensure the identity of the sender, and the integrity of the AES-256 keys.

The RSA-4096 encryption is therefore an effective way to protect the AES-256 keys from quantum attacks, as it uses keys that are 4096 bits long, which are out of reach of the current or future quantum computers.

The RSA-4096 encryption is also a practical way to share the AES-256 keys between the HSM, as it uses the NFC technology, which allows wireless communication at short distance. The RSA-4096 encryption is therefore a major asset for the technologies of Freemindtronic, which offer an optimal security for the encryption of data.

Conclusion

Quantum computing is a new paradigm of computing that could break RSA encryption, the most common encryption method on the internet. With only 372 qubits, a quantum computer could break RSA encryption, exposing our online data and communications. However, there are solutions and alternatives that can resist quantum attacks. One of them is Freemindtronic, an Andorran company that uses NFC technology to share AES-256 standard keys using RSA-4096 standard encryption, which is beyond the reach of quantum computers. Freemindtronic’s technologies are based on the EviCore HSM OpenPGP and the EviCore NFC HSM, which are hardware devices that store and protect cryptographic keys. EviCore HSM OpenPGP transforms your smartphone, tablet or computer into a hardware security module compatible with the OpenPGP standard. EviCore NFC HSM allows you to store and use your crypto keys and secrets in a contactless NFC device, such as a card, a sticker, or a keychain. Both technologies offer features such as offline isolation, seamless integration, enhanced user experience, and multi-factor authentication. Therefore, Freemindtronic’s technologies are innovative and secure solutions for data and communication encryption, which can withstand quantum attacks and ensure the privacy and integrity of online activities.

NFC Business Cards with Cardokey free for life: How to Connect without Revealing

NFC Business Cards with-Cardokey NFC vCard free for life Eco-Friendly from Freemindtronic Andorra
NFC Business Cards with Cardokey by Jacques Gascuel: This article will be updated with any new information on the topic.

How to Create NFC Business Cards with Cardokey

Do you want to create your contact information in a simple, fast and eco-friendly way? Do you want to use NFC technology without spending a fortune or compromising your privacy? Then you need to read this article about Cardokey, the app that’s revolutionizing NFC business cards.

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NFC Business Cards with Cardokey free for life: How to Connect without Revealing

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NFC Business Cards: Create your NFC vCard with Cardokey, the Eco-Friendly and Secure NFC App

Are you looking for an eco-friendly way to create contactless business cards? Do you want to benefit from affordable NFC technology and prioritize privacy? You’ll love Cardokey – the app revolutionizing NFC business cards! Cardokey, the NFC business card that connects you while protecting your privacy.

What is Cardokey and how does it work?

Cardokey: Free App for Eco-Friendly NFC Business Cards

You can easily and free create and share your business cards, your social network links or links to your favorite sites for life. Recycle any NFC Tag, NFC Ticket, NFC Sticker or NFC card allowing the use of the NDEF format.
Use of the free Cardokey application is completely anonymous and does not ask for any personal or professional information. You therefore do not need to create an account or identify yourself to use Cardokey.

Cardokey: a compliant and sustainable solution

Cardokey adheres to various standards like ISO/IEC 7816-4, ISO/IEC 14443, NFC Forum Type 2, ISO/IEC 18092, and ISO/IEC 15693 without compromising your privacy or security. It also complies with international data protection laws such as GDPR, PIPEDA, CCPA, and more.

Cardokey is an eco-designed solution that contributes to the UN Goal 12. Consequently, it complies with international standards for eco-responsible practices, circular and solidarity economy, sustainable economy and carbon footprint reduction.

Cardokey: a compatible and versatile app

NFC business cards created with Cardokey are compatible with all NFC phones, Android and iPhone. The application works in real time, offline, without a database, including in airplane mode. This means that you can modify the information contained in the memory of your NFC media at any time. The app also allows you to format any NFC Media to NDEF format and also erase almost all types of NFC chips.

Cardokey: a simple and fast way to share your contact information

Digital business cards created with Cardokey can be shared in seconds. In fact, your interlocutor does not need to download a specific application in order to be able to read the information you wish to share. All he has to do is place the digital business card under his phone equipped with NFC technology to see the information.

How to create an NFC business card with Cardokey that fits the memory size of your NFC media?

The intelligent system of Cardokey

One of the most interesting features of Cardokey is the automatic management of the memory size of forms. The contact form indicates in real time the actual occupancy of the NDEF memory based on the number of characters. The Cardokey user knows the type of vCard information. He can store it according to the memory size. The memory size depends on the NFC media.

The different types of NFC Media and their memory size

It is possible to make a vCard with a minimum of name, surname and email information for a very small NFC memory4. For example, on an NTAG Nano, which has a capacity of 160 bytes and can store NDEF messages of up to 128 bytes, one can store basic information like a person’s name, surname, phone number, and email address.

Or, more complete information can be stored on a ST25TV02K chip, which has a capacity of 256 bytes and can store NDEF messages of up to 224 bytes. In this case, one can include a person’s name, surname, title, organization, phone number, email address, and postal address.

The steps to create an NFC business card with Cardokey

You can create NFC business cards that fit the memory size of your media without losing information. This allows you to optimize the use of your NFC Media and take advantage of their full capabilities.

To create NFC business cards that fit the memory size of your media, simply follow these steps:

  • Open the Cardokey app and choose the type of content you want to create (business card, URL link, social media link).
  • Enter the information you want to share in the contact form. The form tells you in real time how much memory your data is occupying and how much memory is available on your media.
  • Hover your smartphone to the NFC media of your choice. The app writes the data to the NFC media and confirms that the NFC business card has been created successfully.
  • Test your NFC business card by scanning it with your smartphone or another NFC phone. You’ll see the information you’ve shared on the screen.

That’s it, you’ve created an NFC business card adapted to the memory size of your media, thanks to Cardokey’s automatic form memory size management feature

What are the benefits of NFC business cards with Cardokey?

Cardokey is free and anonymous

Cardokey is a free app that lets you create NFC vCard business cards easily. You can create as many NFC business cards as you want, without paying any fees or signing up for any subscriptions. Moreover, Cardokey is completely anonymous and does not ask for any personal or professional information from the user. You don’t need to create an account or fill in any data. Everything works offline, in real-time, without a database.

Cardokey is easy to use

Cardokey is very easy to use, with one-click installation and operation. You don’t need any technical knowledge or specific hardware to create your NFC business cards. All you have to do is download the app on your smartphone, choose the type of content you want to create, enter the information you want to share, and swipe your smartphone on the NFC media of your choice. And there you have it, your NFC business card is ready! Furthermore, Cardokey features an intelligent system that optimizes the NDEF memory management of NFC media. This provides an optimal user experience.

How Cardokey protects your data with EviSwap NFC NDEF technology

The innovative features of EviSwap NFC NDEF technology

Cardokey uses EviSwap NFC NDEF technology by Freemindtronic for cybersecurity. This is an innovative technology that lets you create and share digital contacts contactless for life. With a simple click, you can create NFC business cards on any NFC media, whether it is disposable or not. You can give a new use to NFC tickets, cards, labels, and tags. You can also rewrite your NFC business cards at least a million times without any risk of error. You can use them for more than 40 years without needing a power source.

The standard and secure format of EviSwap NFC NDEF technology

EviSwap NFC NDEF technology is a technology that uses NFC to facilitate data exchange by implementing the NDEF NFC standard. NDEF stands for NFC Data Exchange Format. It is a standardized format that contains structured data, such as contacts, links, texts, images, etc. NDEF files are compatible with most computer and phone terminals, which can read and write them directly on the NFC memory. EviSwap NFC NDEF technology is especially used by Freemindtronic to exchange encrypted data from human to human from an NFC media, ensuring data security and privacy.

The performance and durability of EviSwap NFC NDEF technology for industrial chips

EviSwap NFC NDEF technology is also compatible with all NFC NDEF media, but it has the advantage of being optimized for Freemindtronic’s NFC HSM industrial chips. These chips can operate in a wide range of temperatures, from -40°C to +85°C. They can withstand harsh environments and resist shocks, vibrations, and water. They are ideal for applications that require reliability and robustness, such as logistics, manufacturing, or security. Moreover, EviSwap NFC NDEF technology is optimized to exchange the largest quantity of information stored in a large NFC memory. For example, it is possible to store NDEF messages of up to 7.9 kilobytes on an M24LR64E-R chip, which has a capacity of 8 kilobytes. In this case, one can add all types of vCard data as well as security keys, digital signature keys and other custom data.

Cardokey: the anonymous and reusable solution for creating NFC business cards

Cardokey is a secure and reusable solution. The Cardokey app works anonymously. It is not connected to a remote service. It does not store in the phone the data. It does not ask you for any information about the user. Finally, it works in real time in Air Gap Network Security . The EviSwap technology also includes an intelligent system to optimize the memory management of NFC media. The goal is to improve the user experience. The intelligent system informs the user in real time of the limits imposed by the maximum size of the NDEF memory available in the media. This allows you to easily store data according to the memory size.

Cardokey, an eco-friendly application

Cardokey isn’t just a universal app for people worldwide; it’s also eco-friendly, allowing you to recycle NFC media and reduce their environmental impact.

How Cardokey recycles NFC Media

NFC media, such as tags, cards or bracelets, are made of several elements and materials, such as PET (polyethylene terephthalate), aluminum or copper for the antenna, a silicon NFC chip, gold or other metals, and an adhesive. These materials are not all easily recyclable, and can cause pollution or waste problems. For example, PET is a common plastic, that is used in many consumer products, like water bottles or packaging. Although PET is recyclable, when it is used in large quantities and in the form of an NFC tag, it is hard to separate PET from other components for recycling, and it tends to clog the treatment filters. Moreover, the metal of an NFC antenna is difficult to recover and recycle. Finally, the NFC chip itself contains precious metals, that are often lost during the recycling process.

To avoid these problems, Cardokey offers an innovative and ecological solution: it allows you to recycle NFC media by reusing them to create new NFC business cards. Instead of throwing away your old NFC tags, cards or bracelets, you can transform them into NFC business cards with Cardokey, and give them a new life. You can also use existing NFC media, such as transport tickets, or access badges, and convert them into NFC business cards with Cardokey. You can thus enjoy all the benefits of NFC technology, without generating additional waste.

How Cardokey works with different types of NFC chips

Cardokey recycles all types of NFC chips (1, 2, 3, 4 and 5), regardless of ISO standards (14443, 15693, 18092). It detects chip types and adjusts accordingly for maximum compatibility. For example, Cardokey can read and write to NFC chips that have enough memory to store information, such as NTAG, MIFARE or ICODE chips. However, Cardokey will not be able to format, erase or modify NFC chips that are permanently locked.

How Cardokey helps you create personalized NFC business cards

By using Cardokey, you can recycle NFC media and turn them into personalized NFC business cards, that contain the information you want to share, such as your name, company, title, website, email, phone number, and more. You can also create URL links to documents or presentations that are useful for your business, such as quotes, contracts, portfolios, and more. You can also create pre-configured links to your favorite social networks, such as Deviantart, Discord, Facebook, Flickr, GitHub, ICQ, Instagram, LinkedIn, Mastodon, Medium, Pinterest, Reddit, Skype, Slack, Snapchat, SoundCloud, Spotify, Steam, Telegram, TikTok, Tumblr, Twitch, Twitter, VKontakte, WeChat, WhatsApp, YouTube, etc. Finally, you can manage your data and contacts in the NFC card, edit or delete them at any time, and view them on your phone or card.

How Cardokey contributes to the preservation of the planet

If we consider the 14 languages ​​available in the Cardokey application, this represents more than 3.7 billion potential users. These potential users can each recycle 10 NFC media each year. This represents 37 billion NFC supports annually. This reduces the environmental impact of NFC and helps preserve the planet.

How Cardokey is eco-friendly and compliant

Cardokey is an eco-designed solution that contributes to the UN Goal 12. This goal aims to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. It complies with ISO 14001, Basel and WEEE standards. It also follows international standards for eco-responsible practices, circular and solidarity economy, sustainable economy and carbon footprint reduction. In addition, Cardokey complies with various standards and regulations. These include ISO/IEC 7816-4, ISO/IEC 14443, NFC Forum Type 2, ISO/IEC 18092 and ISO/IEC 15693. It also follows international law rules on the protection of private and professional data. These include the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and others.

Unlike other NFC business card solutions, which are often paid, limited, complex or not very environmentally friendly, Cardokey offers you a free, unlimited, simple and eco-designed solution.

Cardokey therefore offers you an innovative and ecological solution to create NFC business cards that look like you and that suit your needs. Thanks to its recycling feature, you can also reuse NFC media and turn them into personalized NFC business cards.

Cardokey: a universal app

Cardokey is designed to let you create and manage your NFC business cards in a simple and efficient way. But did you know that Cardokey is also a universal app, which can be used by people from all over the world, regardless of their language?
Indeed, Cardokey is available in 14 languages: Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, English, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, and Ukrainian. This represents more than 86.02% of the languages spoken in the world, and more than 3.7 billion people who can use the app in their native language or in a language they master.

Moreover, Cardokey automatically adapts to the language of the phone where it is installed. If the user changes the language of their phone, Cardokey will do the same. Thus, you can create and manage your NFC business cards in the language of your choice, and enjoy all the features of the app.

You can also choose to share your information in multiple languages, by creating different profiles for each language. For example, you can have a profile in French for your French-speaking contacts, a profile in English for your English-speaking contacts, and a profile in Chinese for your Chinese contacts.

Cardokey offers you great flexibility and creativity to create NFC business cards that suit you and your needs.

How NFC vCards work

NFC stands for Near Field Communication. It is a technology that allows two media to communicate with each other when they are close to each other. NFC business cards with Cardokey use this technology to share your contact information in a simple and fast way.

An NFC tag is a media that contains a tiny electronic chip that can store and exchange data. It can have different shapes, such as stickers, keychains or physical cards. When you bring your smartphone near an NFC tag, the data associated with the tag appears automatically on your screen.

NFC vCard business cards with Cardokey are a great alternative to paper business cards, which are often thrown away, lost or outdated. They are eco-friendly, reusable and updated. They also save you time and money, as you don’t need to print or carry them. Moreover, they are more secure and anonymous, as you don’t need to share your personal data or connect to the Internet to use them.

What are the features of Cardokey NFC vCard business cards?

Cardokey offers many features that allow you to create and manage your NFC digital business cards. Here’s a table that summarizes Cardokey’s features:

Function Available
Create a vCard (contact) taking into account the available space ✔️
Create an NDEF NFC Vcard (Manually) ✔️
Create a vCard from an existing contact in the phone ✔️
Modify any existing NFC vCard created by other paid or free apps to make it easier to recycle and update them ✔️
Delete data stored in the NDEF of an NFC media ✔️
Format all types of NFC media to add NDEF compatibility ✔️
Create and store in the NDEF memory of any existing NFC media: your pre-configured links for social networks, the url of your choice, a vCard contact ✔️
Data management in the NFC Media: Create, Read, Update, Delete (CRUD) ✔️
Explanation of each pcictogram and its feature in the application ✔️
Show contact on phone and NFC Media ✔️
Automatic management of the memory size of the NFC card ✔️
Translation into 14 languages: CA, FR, EN, UK, ES, DE, IT, PT, RO, RU, AR, HI, ZH,JP ✔️
Information de contact de Freemindtronic ✔️
Information about the publisher of the Freemindtronic software ✔️
Direct link on the play store to buy the Cardokey Pro version and NFC Medial ✔️
Cardokey is a recycling solution for all types of disposable or non-disposable NFC Media ✔️

 

With these features, you can create a custom NFC business card, which contains the information you want to share, such as your name, company, title, website, email, phone number, and more. You can also create URL links to documents or presentations that are useful for your business, such as quotes, contracts, portfolios, and more. You can also create pre-configured links to your favorite social networks, such as Deviantart, Discord, Facebook, Flickr, GitHub, ICQ, Instagram, LinkedIn, Mastodon, Medium, Pinterest, Reddit, Skype, Slack, Snapchat, SoundCloud, Spotify, Steam, Telegram, TikTok, Tumblr, Twitch, Twitter, VKontakte, WeChat, WhatsApp, YouTube, etc. Finally, you can manage your data and contacts in the NFC card, edit or delete them at any time, and view them on your phone or card. These features give you a lot of freedom and creativity to create NFC business cards that look and match you.

What are the use cases for NFC business cards with Cardokey?

There are many of them, whether for business or personal needs. Here are some examples of use cases:

Andorra: keep in memory a special event

During the winter, a family visits Andorra’s Granvalira for their child’s first ski lesson and to experience their first snowflake, star, etc. The family keeps the NFC ski ticket formatted in NDEF format. Then, they save a URL that links to a page with all the photos and videos of this event. The ski ticket has become a souvenir object that will be kept for several years. In this case, Cardokey allows you to create an NFC business card with a URL that links to a page where there are all the photos, videos of this event.

Exhibitor: a connected poster with NFC tags

At a booth event, Marius uses self-adhesive NFC tags that they stick behind a poster holder advertising their products with a URL link that directs the visitor to their product information on the poster. The exhibitor can change the poster of his support with Cardokey. He can put a new poster and change the URL link of his new poster. This way, the exhibitor makes a simple poster a connected poster. In this case, Cardokey allows you to create an NFC business card with a URL link that directs the visitor to your product information on the poster.

Goodies: Offer NFC business cards

During a trade show, Mary offers her visitors NFC business cards with her brand as goodies. This allows her to make herself known and retain the loyalty of his potential clients, who will be able to scan her NFC business card with their smartphone to access her website, her LinkedIn profile, her portfolio, etc. Mary can purchase her NFC media from any NFC media e-commerce site or order from Cardokey NFC Cards with an extremely long lifespan of up to 1 million writes and 40 years of vCard retention NFC or URL or network link. In this case, Cardokey allows you to create an NFC vCard with all of Mary’s contact details to offer to her visitors.

Tourist: NFC business cards in different languages

While traveling abroad, Tao uses Cardokey to create his NFC business card with his contact details in his native language. This allows him to easily introduce himself to the people he meets. In fact, they will be able to scan his vcard with their smartphone to see the information translated into their language. He can also use Cardokey to save URL links to websites or applications useful for his trip, such as tourist guides, maps, booking services, etc. In this case, Cardokey allows you to create an NFC business card with your contact details in your native language.

Family: An NFC business card collecting memories

During a family reunion, a family member uses Cardokey to store links to photos and memories on NFC media. Before leaving each other, everyone takes their NFC media. Later, they will be able to relive their life moments with their loved ones, who will simply scan the NFC vcards with their smartphone to view their images, videos, messages, etc. They will also be able to use Cardokey to create URL links to websites or applications that are important to them, such as associations, causes, passions, etc. In this case, Cardokey allows you to create an NFC business card with your photos and memories.

How to download and install Cardokey?

To use Cardokey, you need an NFC-enabled smartphone, i.e. one that has an NFC chip and can read and write NFC data. Most recent smartphones are NFC-enabled, but you can check your smartphone’s compatibility on the Cardokey website.

Cardokey is available in 14 languages (Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, German, English, French, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Ukrainian). You can download it in any country that accepts the Google play store or app store platform.

To download and install Cardokey on your smartphone, all you need to do is follow these steps:

  • Go to the Google Play Store or App Store and search for “Cardokey”.
  • Select the app and click “Install”.
  • Open the app and agree to the terms of use.
  • Start creating your NFC business cards!

If you are interested in Cardokey, feel free to download it now by clicking on the following link:

In short

Cardokey is a free, user-friendly, eco-conscious app compliant with global privacy and data protection laws. It allows you to create NFC vCard business cards for all Android and iPhone NFC phones. It also lets you reuse and customize NFC media.

Cardokey is the NFC business card that connects you without revealing you. It lets you exchange your contact details without contact and without paper. It offers you a free, unlimited, simple and eco-designed solution.

Definition of technical terms:

  • NFC (Near Field Communication): a technology that allows two devices to communicate with each other when they are close to each other.
  • NDEF (NFC Data Exchange Format): a standard format for storing and exchanging data on NFC media.
  • vCard: a digital format for storing and sharing contact information, such as name, phone number, email address, etc.
  • Air Gap

Are fingerprint systems really secure? How to protect your data and identity against BrutePrint

Fingerprint Systems Really Secure - How to Protect Your Data and Identity
Fingerprint Systems Really Secure by Jacques Gascuel: This article will be updated with any new information on the topic.

Fingerprint Security

You will surely be amazed by our discoveries! These systems verify your identity on smartphones and other devices by using the unique patterns of your finger. But is their security level? In this study, we explore the weaknesses of these systems and how various actors, from cybercriminals to sovereign entities, can exploit them. We looked at 25 techniques for corrupting fingerprint authentication systems. We will also introduce an effective dual-use defense solution: DataShielder HSM solutions to protect your secrets and sensitive data even if this biometric authentication system becomes compromised.

Fingerprint Biometrics: An In-Depth Exploration of Security Mechanisms and Vulnerabilities

It is a widely recognized biometric authentication system for identity verification. In this overview of fingerprint authentication systems, we will explore comprehensively to understand the complex world of fingerprint biometrics. Our goal is to provide a detailed exploration of these systems, their inner workings, vulnerabilities, and countermeasures.

Demystifying Fingerprint Systems: A Thorough Examination

Two fundamental components make up these systems: the fingerprint sensor and the comparison algorithm.:

The Fingerprint Sensor: Where Biometric Data Begins

These systems rely on an essential component: the fingerprint sensor. It captures the finger image and converts it into a digital format. Different types of sensors exist, each with their advantages and disadvantages:

  1. Optical sensors: They use light and a camera to create a high-resolution image.
  2. Capacitive sensors: They use an array of small capacitors to measure the differences in electrical charge between the ridges and valleys.
  3. Ultrasonic sensors: They use sound waves to create a three-dimensional image.
  4. Thermal sensors: They detect the heat emitted by the finger to generate an image.

The Comparison Algorithm: The Gatekeeper of Access

The comparison algorithm is a critical software component that analyzes the captured fingerprint image. Its role is vital:

  • Image Analysis: The algorithm scrutinizes the fingerprint image, extracting its unique features.
  • Template Comparison: It then compares these features to one or more stored templates, serving as reference fingerprints for authorized users.
  • Threshold Criteria: Access is granted if the algorithm determines a significant similarity between the captured image and a stored template, surpassing a predefined threshold. If not, the system considers the fingerprint invalid and denies access.

Fingerprint System Vulnerabilities and Attack Techniques

First, before evaluating attack techniques against fingerprinting systems, let’s explore different attack types, techniques, motivations, and strategies. In our thorough analysis of fingerprint system vulnerabilities, we must acknowledge numerous attack techniques employed by various actors. These techniques, driven by diverse motivations ranging from personal gain to malicious intent, illuminate the complexities of fingerprint system security. We’ve identified a total of twenty-five (25) distinct attack types, categorized into five groups in this study: “Electronic Devices for Biometric Attacks,” “Additional Fingerprint Attacks,” “Advanced Attacks,” “Attacks on Lock Patterns,” and “Attacks on Fingerprint Sensors.”

Attacks on Fingerprint Sensors

Fingerprint sensors, a common biometric authentication method, are vulnerable to several attack types and techniques update 23 february 2024:

ATTACK TYPE TECHNIQUE MOTIVATIONS STRATEGIES
Residual Fingerprint Attack Recovers the smartphone owner’s fingerprint left on surfaces, reproducing it. Identity theft, unauthorized access, or malicious purposes. Exploits traces of fingerprints on surfaces using materials like gelatin, silicone.
Code Injection Attack Injects malicious code to bypass fingerprint sensor security. Compromises device security for data theft or illicit activities. Exploits software vulnerabilities for unauthorized access to biometric data.
False Acceptance Attack The system accepts a fingerprint that doesn’t belong to the authorized user. Identity theft, unauthorized access, or malicious intentions. Can occur due to poor sensor quality, a high tolerance threshold, or similarity between different individuals’ fingerprints.
False Rejection Attack The system rejects a fingerprint that belongs to the authorized user. Identity theft, unauthorized access. Can occur due to poor sensor quality, a low tolerance threshold, environmental changes, or alterations to the user’s fingerprint.
Substitution Attack Tricks the system with an artificial fingerprint. Identity theft or unauthorized access. Can be done using materials like gelatin, silicone, latex, or wax.
Modification Attack Tricks the system with a modified fingerprint. Identity theft or to conceal the user’s identity. Can be done using techniques like gluing, cutting, scraping, or burning.
Impersonation Attack Tricks the system with another user’s fingerprint, either with their consent or by force. Identity theft using force, threats, bribery, or seduction. Uses the fingerprint of another user who has given consent or has been coerced into doing so.
Adversarial Generation Attack Tricks the system with images of fingerprints generated by an adversarial generative adversarial network (GAN). Bypasses liveness detection methods based on deep learning. Mimics the appearance of real fingerprints.
Acoustic Analysis Attack Tricks the system by listening to the sounds emitted by the fingerprint sensor during fingerprint capture. Can reconstruct the fingerprint image from acoustic signals. Use noise cancellation techniques, encrypt acoustic signals, or use liveness detection methods
Partial Print Attack Tricks the system with a partial fingerprint from the registered fingerprint. Increases the false acceptance rate by exploiting the similarity between partial prints of different users. Can use a portion of the registered fingerprint.
Privilege Escalation Attack Exploits vulnerabilities in the operating system or application to obtain higher privileges than those granted by fingerprint authentication Can access sensitive data, manipulate system files, perform unauthorized actions, or bypass security measures Use strong passwords, enforce multi-factor authentication, limit user privileges, patch system vulnerabilities, monitor user activities, and audit logs
Spoofing Attack Imitates a legitimate fingerprint or identity to deceive the system or the user Can gain access, steal information, spread malware, or impersonate someone. Use liveness detection methods, verify the authenticity, avoid trusting unknown sources, and report spoofing attempts
PrintListener: Side-channel Attack Utilizes acoustic signals from finger friction on touchscreens to replicate fingerprints Gain unauthorized access to devices and services protected by fingerprint authentication Implement noise interference, use advanced fingerprint sensors resistant to acoustic analysis, enable multifactor authentication, regularly update security protocols

For more information on new attack type “PrintListener” (a specific acoustic analysis attack), readers are encouraged to explore the detailed article at https://freemindtronic.com/printlistener-technology-fingerprints/.
These attacks expose vulnerabilities in fingerprint sensor technology and underline the need for robust security measures.

Attacks on Lock Patterns (For Lock Screen Authentication)

Lock patterns, often used on mobile devices for screen unlocking, are susceptible to various attack techniques:

ATTACK TYPE TECHNIQUE MOTIVATIONS STRATEGIES
Brute Force Attack Attempts all possible lock pattern combinations. Gains unauthorized device access. Systematically tests different pattern combinations.
Replica Fingerprint Attack Uses a 3D printer to create a replica fingerprint. Unauthorized access or identity theft. Produces a replica for sensor authentication.
Sensor Vulnerabilities Exploits sensor technology vulnerabilities. Compromises device security for malicious purposes. Identifies and exploits sensor technology weaknesses.
BrutePrint Attack Intercepts messages, emulating the fingerprint sensor. Gains unauthorized access, often with hardware components. Exploits communication protocol vulnerabilities.

These attacks target the vulnerabilities in lock pattern authentication and underscore the importance of strong security practices.

Advanced Attacks

Advanced attacks employ sophisticated techniques and technologies to compromise fingerprint systems:

ATTACK TYPE TECHNIQUE MOTIVATIONS STRATEGIES
Presentation Attack Presents manipulated images or counterfeit fingerprints. Espionage, identity theft, or malicious purposes. Crafts counterfeit fingerprints or images to deceive sensors.
Rapid Identification Attack Uses advanced algorithms to swiftly identify fingerprints. Corporate espionage, financial gain, or enhanced security. Quickly identifies fingerprints from extensive datasets.
Digital Footprint Attack Collects and analyzes the online data and activity of the target, using open source intelligence tools or data brokers Can obtain personal information, preferences, habits, or vulnerabilities of the target. Use privacy settings, delete unwanted data, avoid oversharing, and monitor online reputation

These advanced attacks leverage technology and data to compromise fingerprint-based security.

Network-Based Attacks

Network-based attacks are those that target the communication or data transmission between the device and the fingerprint authentication system. These attacks can compromise the integrity, confidentiality, or availability of the biometric data or the user session. In this section, we will discuss four types of network-based attacks: phishing, session hijacking, privilege escalation, and spyware.

ATTACK TYPE TECHNIQUE MOTIVATIONS STRATEGIES
Phishing Attack Technique: Phishing attacks involve sending fraudulent messages to victims, enticing them to click on a link or download an attachment. These malicious payloads may contain code designed to steal their fingerprints or redirect them to a fake website requesting authentication. Motivations: Phishing attacks are motivated by the desire to deceive and manipulate users into revealing their fingerprint data or login credentials. Strategies: Phishing attackers employ various tactics, such as crafting convincing emails, spoofing legitimate websites, and using social engineering to trick users.
Session Hijacking Attack Technique: Session hijacking attacks aim to intercept or impersonate an authenticated user’s session, exploiting communication protocol vulnerabilities or using spyware. Motivations: Session hijacking is typically carried out to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information or systems, often for financial gain or espionage. Strategies: Attackers employ packet sniffing, session token theft, or malware like spyware to compromise and take control of active user sessions.
Spyware Attack Technique: Spyware attacks infect the device with spyware to capture fingerprint data. Motivations: Spyware attacks are driven by the objective of illicitly obtaining biometric data for malicious purposes, such as identity theft or unauthorized access. Strategies: Attackers use spyware to secretly record and transmit fingerprint information, often through backdoors or covert channels, without the victim’s knowledge.
Predator Files Infects Android phones with a spyware application that can access their data, including fingerprint information. Sold to multiple governments for targeting political opponents, journalists, activists, and human rights defenders in over 50 countries. Use spyware detection and removal tools, update system software, avoid downloading untrusted applications, and scan devices regularly

As we can see from the table above, network-based attacks pose a serious threat to fingerprint authentication systems and users’ privacy and security. Therefore, it is essential to implement effective countermeasures and best practices to prevent or mitigate these attacks. In the next section, we will explore another category of attacks: physical attacks.

Electronic Devices for Biometric Attacks

Some electronic devices are designed to target and compromise fingerprint authentication systems. Here are some notable examples:

Device Description Usage STRATEGIES
Cellebrite UFED A portable device capable of extracting, decrypting, and analyzing data from mobile phones, including fingerprint data. Used by law enforcement agencies worldwide. Used by law enforcement agencies to access digital evidence on mobile phones. Applies substances to damage or obscure sensor surfaces.
GrayKey A black box device designed to unlock iPhones protected by passcodes or fingerprints using a “brute force” technique. Sold to law enforcement and government agencies for investigative purposes. Sold to law enforcement and government agencies for investigative purposes to unlock iPhones. Use strong passwords, enable encryption, disable USB access, and update system software.
Chemical Attacks Alters or erases fingerprints on sensors. Prevents identification or creates false identities. Use fingerprint enhancement techniques, verify the authenticity, and use liveness detection methods

These devices pose a high risk to biometric systems because they can allow malicious actors to access sensitive information or bypass security measures. They are moderate to high in ease of execution because they require physical access to the target devices and the use of costly or scarce devices. Their historical success is variable because it depends on the quality of the devices and the security of the biometric systems. They are currently relevant because they are used by various actors, such as government agencies, law enforcement, or hackers, to access biometric data stored on mobile phones or other devices. This comprehensive overview of attack types, techniques, motivations, and strategies is crucial for improving biometric authentication system security.

BrutePrint: A Novel Attack on Fingerprint Systems on Phones

Fingerprint systems on phones are not only vulnerable to spoofing or data breach attacks; they are also exposed to a novel attack called BrutePrint. This attack exploits two zero-day vulnerabilities in the smartphone fingerprint authentication (SFA) framework. BrutePrint allows attackers to bypass the attempt limit and liveness detection mechanisms of fingerprint systems on phones. It also enables them to perform unlimited brute force attacks until finding a matching fingerprint.

How BrutePrint Works

Fingerprint Systems Really Secure : BrutePrint

BrutePrint works by hijacking the fingerprint images captured by the sensor. It applies neural style transfer (NST) to generate valid brute-forcing inputs from arbitrary fingerprint images. BrutePrint also exploits two vulnerabilities in the SFA framework:

  • Cancel-After-Match-Fail (CAMF): this vulnerability allows attackers to cancel the authentication process after a failed attempt. It prevents the system from counting the failed attempts and locking the device.
  • Match-After-Lock (MAL): this vulnerability allows attackers to infer the authentication results even when the device is in “lock mode”. It guides the brute force attack.To perform a BrutePrint attack, attackers need physical access to the phone, a database of fingerprints, and a custom-made circuit board that costs about 15 dollars. The circuit board acts as a middleman between the sensor and the application. It intercepts and manipulates the fingerprint images.

How to Prevent BrutePrint

BrutePrint is a serious threat to phone users who rely on fingerprint systems to protect their devices and data. It shows that fingerprint systems on phones are not as secure as they seem. They need more robust protection mechanisms against brute force attacks. Some of the possible ways to prevent BrutePrint are:

  • Updating the phone’s software: this can help fix the vulnerabilities exploited by BrutePrint and improve the security of the SFA framework.
  • Using multifactor authentication: this can increase the level of security and reduce the risks of spoofing or brute force attacks. It combines fingerprint authentication with another factor, such as a password, a PIN code, a pattern lock screen ,or other trust criteria that allows patented segmented key authentication technology developed by Freemindtronic in Andorra .
  • Use of DataShielder HSM solutions: these are solutions developed by Freemindtronic in Andorra that allow you to create HSM (Hardware Security Module) on any device, without a server or database, to encrypt any type of data. DataShielder HSM solutions also include EviSign technology, which enables advanced electronic signing of documents. DataShielder HSM solutions are notably available in Defense versions, which offer a high level of protection for civil and/or military applications.

Assessing Attack Techniques: Ease of Execution and Current Relevance

In our pursuit of understanding fingerprint system vulnerabilities, it is crucial to assess not only the types and forms of attacks but also their practicality and current relevance. This section provides an in-depth evaluation of each attack technique, considering factors such as the ease of execution, historical success rates, and their present-day applicability.

Attack Techniques Overview

Let’s analyze the spectrum of attack techniques, considering their potential danger, execution simplicity, historical performance, and present-day relevance.

Attack Type Level of Danger Ease of Execution Historical Success Current Relevance
Residual Fingerprint Attack Medium Moderate Variable Ongoing
Code Injection Attack High Moderate Variable Still Relevant
Acoustic Analysis Attack Medium Low Fluctuating Ongoing Concerns
Brute Force Attack High Low Variable Contemporary
Replica Fingerprint Attack Medium Moderate Fluctuating Still Relevant
Sensor Vulnerabilities High Moderate Variable Ongoing Significance
BrutePrint Attack High High Variable Continues to Pose Concerns
Presentation Attack High Moderate Diverse Still Pertinent
Rapid Identification Attack High Low Variable Ongoing Relevance
Digital Footprint Attack High Low Fluctuating Currently Pertinent
Chemical Attacks High Low Variable Ongoing Relevance
Phishing Attack High Moderate Variable Modern Threat
Session Hijacking Attack High Low Variable Ongoing Relevance
Privilege Escalation Attack High Low Variable Remains Significant
Adversarial Generation Attack High Moderate Variable Still in Use
Acoustic Analysis Attack (Revisited) Medium Low Fluctuating Ongoing Concerns
Partial Print Attack Medium Low Variable Currently Relevant
Electronic Devices for Biometric Attacks High Moderate to High Variable Currently Relevant
PrintListener (Specific Acoustic Analysis Attack) High Moderate Emerging Highly Relevant

Understanding the Evaluation:

  • Level of Danger categorizes potential harm as Low, Moderate, or High.
  • Ease of Execution is categorized as Low, Medium, or High.
  • Historical Success highlights fluctuating effectiveness.
  • Current Relevance signifies ongoing concerns in contemporary security landscapes.

By assessing these attack techniques meticulously, we can gauge their practicality, historical significance, and continued relevance.

The type of attack by electronic devices for biometric systems is very dangerous because it can allow malicious actors to access sensitive information or bypass the protections of biometric systems. Its ease of execution is moderate to high, as it requires physical access to target devices and the use of expensive or difficult-to-obtain devices. Its historical success is variable because it depends on the quality of the devices used and the security measures implemented by the biometric systems. It is currently relevant because it is used by government agencies, law enforcement or hackers to access biometric data stored on mobile phones or other devices.

Statistical Insights into Fingerprint Systems

Fingerprint systems have found wide-ranging applications, from law enforcement and border control to banking, healthcare, and education. They are equally popular among consumers who use them to unlock devices or access online services. However, questions linger regarding their reliability and security. Let’s delve into some pertinent statistics:

According to Acuity Market Intelligence, 2018 saw more than 1.5 billion smartphones equipped with fingerprint sensors, constituting 60% of the global market.

The IAFIS Annual Report of 2020 revealed that more than 1.3 billion fingerprint records were stored in national and international databases in 2019.

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the average false acceptance rate of fingerprint systems in 2018 was 0.08%, marking an 86% decrease compared to 2013.

These statistics shed light on the widespread adoption of fingerprint systems and their improved accuracy over time. Nevertheless, they also underline that these systems, while valuable, are not without their imperfections and can still be susceptible to errors or manipulation.

Real-World Cases of Fingerprint System Corruption: Phone Cases

Fingerprint system corruption can also affect phone users, who rely on fingerprint sensors to unlock their devices or access online services. However, these sensors are not foolproof and can be bypassed or exploited by skilled adversaries. These attacks can result in device theft, data breaches, or other security issues.

Here are some examples of fingerprint system corruption that involve phones:

  • German hacker Jan Krissler, alias Starbug, remarkably unlocked the smartphone of the German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen in 2014 using a high-resolution photo of her thumb taken during a press conference. He employed image processing software to enhance the photo’s quality and created a counterfeit fingerprint printed on paper.
  • A terrorist attack at the Istanbul airport killed 45 people and injured more than 200 in 2016. The investigators found that the three suicide bombers used fake fingerprints to enter Turkey and avoid security checks. They copied the fingerprints of other people from stolen or forged documents.
  • Researchers from Tencent Labs and Zhejiang University discovered in 2020 that they could bypass a fingerprint lock on Android smartphones using a brute force attack, that is when a large number of attempts are made to discover a password, code or any other form of security protection.
  • Experts from Cisco Talos created fake fingerprints capable of fooling the sensors of smartphones, tablets and laptops as well as smart locks in 2020, but it took them a lot of effort.
  • A case of identity theft was discovered in France in 2021, involving the use of fake fingerprints to obtain identity cards and driving licenses. The suspects used silicone molds to reproduce the fingerprints of real people, and then glued them on their fingers to fool the biometric sensors.
  • Researchers from the University of Buffalo developed a method in 2021 to create artificial fingerprints from images of fingers. These fingerprints can fool the sensors of smartphones, but also more advanced biometric systems, such as those used by police or airports.
  • A report by Kaspersky revealed in 2021 that banking apps on smartphones are vulnerable to attacks by falsified fingerprints. Attackers can use malware to intercept biometric data from users and use them to access their accounts.

These cases highlight the significant threats posed by fingerprint system corruption to phone users. Therefore, it is important to protect these systems against external and internal threats while integrating advanced technologies to enhance security and reliability.

DataShielder HSM: A Counter-Espionage Solution for Fingerprint System Security

You have learned in the previous sections that fingerprint systems are not foolproof. They can be corrupted by attacks that expose your secrets and sensitive data. To prevent malicious actors from capturing them, you need an effective and reliable encryption solution, even if your phone is compromised.

Freemindtronic, the leader in NFC HSM technologies, designed, developed, published and manufactured DataShielder HSM in Andorra. It is a range of solutions that you need. You can use either EviCore NFC HSM or EviCore HSM OpenPGP technology with DataShielder HSM. It lets you encrypt your data with segmented keys that you generate randomly yourself. The key segments are securely encrypted and stored in different locations. To access your secrets and your sensitive data encrypted in AES 256 quantum, you need to bring all segments together for authentication.

DataShielder HSM has two versions: DataShielder NFC HSM for civil and military use, and DataShielder NFC HSM Defense for sovereign use. DataShielder NFC HSM Defense integrates two technologies: EviCore NFC HSM and EviCore HSM OpenPGP. They allow you to create a hardware security module (HSM) without contact on any medium, without server, without database, totally anonymous, untraceable and undetectable.

DataShielder HSM is a user-friendly and compatible solution with all types of phone, with or without NFC, Android or Apple. It can be used for various purposes, such as securing messaging services, encrypting files or emails, signing documents or transactions, or generating robust passwords.

DataShielder HSM is a counter-espionage solution that enhances the security of fingerprint systems. It protects your data and secrets from unauthorized access, even if your fingerprint is compromised.

Current Trends and Developments in Fingerprint Biometrics

Fingerprint biometrics is a constantly evolving field. It seeks to improve the performance, reliability and security of existing systems. But it also develops new technologies and applications. Here are some current or expected trends and developments in this field.

  • Multimodality: it consists of combining several biometric modalities (fingerprint, face, iris, voice, etc.) to increase the level of security and reduce the risks of error or fraud. For example, some smartphones already offer authentication by fingerprint and facial recognition.
  • Contactless biometrics: it consists of capturing fingerprints without the need to touch a sensor. This technique avoids the problems related to the quality or contamination of fingerprints. And it improves the comfort and hygiene of users. For example, some airports already use contactless scanners to verify the identity of travelers.
  • Behavioral biometrics: it consists of analyzing the behavior of users when they interact with a biometric system. For instance, the way they place their finger on the sensor or the pressure they exert. This technique adds a dynamic factor to identification. And it detects attempts of impersonation or coercion. For example, some banking systems already use behavioral biometrics to reinforce the security of transactions.

Standards and Regulations for Fingerprint Systems

The use of fingerprint systems is subject to standards and regulations. They aim to ensure the quality, compatibility and security of biometric data. These standards and regulations can be established by international, national or sectoral organizations. Here are some examples of standards and regulations applicable to fingerprint systems.

  • The ISO/IEC 19794-2 standard: it defines the format of fingerprint data. It allows to store, exchange and compare fingerprints between different biometric systems. It specifies the technical characteristics, parameters and procedures to be respected to ensure the interoperability of systems.
  • The (EU) 2019/1157 regulation: it concerns the strengthening of the security of identity cards and residence permits issued to citizens of the European Union and their relatives. It provides for the mandatory introduction of two fingerprints in a digital medium integrated into the card. It aims to prevent document fraud and identity theft.
  • The Data Protection Act: it regulates the collection, processing and storage of personal data, including biometric data. It imposes on data controllers to respect the principles of lawfulness, fairness, proportionality, security and limited duration of data. It guarantees to data subjects a right of access, rectification and opposition to their data.

Examples of Good Practices for Fingerprint System Security

Fingerprint systems offer a convenient and effective way to authenticate people. But they are not without risks. It is important to adopt good practices to strengthen the security of fingerprint systems and protect the rights and freedoms of users. Here are some examples of good practices to follow by end users, businesses and governments.

  • For end users: it is recommended not to disclose their fingerprints to third parties, not to use the same finger for different biometric systems, and to check regularly the state of their fingerprints (cuts, burns, etc.) that may affect recognition. It is also advisable to combine fingerprint authentication with another factor, such as a password or a PIN or other trust criteria that allows the patented segmented key authentication technology developed by Freemindtronic in Andorra.
  • For businesses: it is necessary to comply with the applicable regulation on the protection of personal data, and to inform employees or customers about the use and purposes of fingerprint systems. It is also essential to secure biometric data against theft, loss or corruption, by using encryption, pseudonymization or anonymization techniques.
  • For governments: it is essential to define a clear and consistent legal framework on the use of fingerprint systems, taking into account ethical principles, fundamental rights and national security needs. It is also important to promote international cooperation and information exchange between competent authorities, in compliance with existing standards and conventions.

Responses to Attacks

Fingerprint systems can be victims of attacks aimed at bypassing or compromising their operation. These attacks can have serious consequences on the security of people, property or information. It is essential to know how to react in case of successful attack against a fingerprint system. Here are some recommendations to follow in case of incident.

  • Detecting the attack: it consists of identifying the type, origin and extent of the attack, using monitoring, auditing or forensic analysis tools. It is also necessary to assess the potential or actual impact of the attack on the security of the system and users.
  • Containing the attack: it consists of isolating the affected system or the source of the attack, by cutting off network access, disabling the biometric sensor or blocking the user account. It is also necessary to preserve any evidence that may facilitate investigation.
  • Notifying the attack: it consists of informing competent authorities, partners or users concerned by the attack, in compliance with legal and contractual obligations. It is also necessary to communicate on the nature, causes and consequences of the attack, as well as on the measures taken to remedy it.
  • Repairing the attack: it consists of restoring the normal functioning of the fingerprint system, by eliminating the traces of the attack, resetting the settings or replacing the damaged components. It is also necessary to revoke or renew the compromised biometric data, and verify the integrity and security of the system.
  • Preventing the attack: it consists of strengthening the security of the fingerprint system, by applying updates, correcting vulnerabilities or adding layers of protection. It is also necessary to train and raise awareness among users about good practices and risks related to fingerprint systems.

Next Steps for Fingerprint Biometrics Industry

Fingerprint biometrics is a booming field, which offers many opportunities and challenges for industry, society and security. Here are some avenues for reflection on the next steps for this field.

  • Research and development: it consists of continuing efforts to improve the performance, reliability and security of fingerprint systems, but also to explore new applications and technologies. For example, some researchers are working on artificial fingerprints generated by artificial intelligence, which could be used to protect or test biometric systems.
  • Future investments: it consists of supporting the development and deployment of fingerprint systems, by mobilizing financial, human and material resources. For example, according to a market study, the global market for fingerprint systems is expected to reach 8.5 billion dollars in 2025, with an average annual growth rate of 15.66%.
  • Expected innovations: it consists of anticipating the needs and expectations of users, customers and regulators, by offering innovative and adapted solutions. For example, some actors in the sector envisage creating fingerprint systems integrated into human skin, which could offer permanent and inviolable identification.

Conclusion

Fingerprint systems are a convenient and fast way to authenticate users, based on their unique fingerprint patterns. They have many applications in device protection and online service access. However, these systems are not immune to attacks by skilled adversaries, who can manipulate and exploit them. These attacks can lead to unauthorized access, data breaches, and other security issues.

To prevent these threats, users need to be vigilant and enhance security with additional factors, such as PINs, passwords, or patterns. Moreover, regular system updates are crucial to fix emerging vulnerabilities.

Fingerprint systems are still a valuable and common form of authentication. But users must understand their weaknesses and take steps to strengthen system integrity and data protection. One of the possible steps is to use DataShielder HSM solutions, developed by Freemindtronic in Andorra. These solutions allow creating HSM (Hardware Security Module) on any device, without server or database, to encrypt and sign any data. DataShielder HSM solutions also include EviSign technology, which allows electronically signing documents with a legally recognized value. DataShielder HSM solutions are available in different versions, including Defense versions, which offer a high level of protection for civil and military applications.