Analysing and Improving the Security of Contactless Payment Cards

AL-Maliki, Ossama (2020) Analysing and Improving the Security of Contactless Payment Cards. Doctoral thesis, University of Buckingham.

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Europay, MasterCard, and Visa (EMV) is the most used payment protocol around the world with 85.9% of the payment cards in the EU and the UK being EMV based cards in 2019. The EMV payment protocol has made contactless transactions faster and more convenient for cardholders as they only need to place the card next to the Point of Sale (POS) to make a payment. According to the latest report of the UK Finance, the total value of contactless card transactions in 2019 was higher than the cash ones for the first time ever. On the other hand, the introduction of the wireless interface in the EMV contactless transactions opens the door for several attacks to be launched on contactless cards such as skimming, eavesdropping, replay, and relay attacks. Since April 2020, the limit of contactless transactions has increased to £45 as a response to the Covid-19 crisis. This might create an extra motivation for launching more attackers on contactless cards. This thesis is primarily concerned with investigating and analysing the security of contactless card’s payments and uncovering the impact of key vulnerabilities in the EMV contactless card specifications. The two main vulnerable are the one-way authentication methods and the lack of cardholder verification in such transactions. The thesis also proposes the following four practical protocols to improve the security and the privacy of the EMV contactless cards. 1- A new tokenization protocol to replace the actual Primary Account Number (PAN) with a token to prevent the EMV contactless cards from revealing the actual PAN. 2- A mutual authentication protocol to address the vulnerabilities related to the EMV one-way card authentication methods in the EMV payment protocol. 3- A novel gyroscope sensor into EMV contactless cards to be used for activating the cards by perfuming a simple move by the cardholder. 4- A protocol to use cardholders’ NFC enabled smartphones to activate contactless cards. The two main aims of these four proposed protocols are to prevent such cards from being read by unauthorised NFC enabled readers/smartphones and to give cardholders more control of their contactless cards in order to prevent several attacks. Moreover, the thesis also describes a Java framework to mimic a genuine EMV contactless card and validate the four proposed solutions. The thesis argues that the first two proposed solutions require minimal changes to the existing EMV infrastructures and do not have any impact on the user’s experience while the last two proposed solutions require some changes the users’ experience when making contactless card transactions.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Payment Security ; Contactless Payments ; Authentication Protocol
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
Divisions: School of Computing
Depositing User: Nicola Button
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2022 12:07
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2022 12:07

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