Check out the new USENIX Web site.

Home About USENIX Events Membership Publications Students
Second USENIX Workshop on Electronic Commerce

Tamper Resistance - a Cautionary Note

Ross Anderson, Cambridge University
Markus Kuhn, Purdue University


An increasing number of systems, from pay-TV to electronic purses, rely on the tamper resistance of smartcards and other security processors. We describe a number of attacks on such systems - some old, some new and some that are simply little known outside the chip testing community. We conclude that trusting tamper resistance is problematic; smartcards are broken routinely, and even a device that was described by a government signals agency as `the most secure processor generally available' turns out to be vulnerable. Designers of secure systems should consider the consequences with care.

This paper will be published by the USENIX Association in Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop On Electronic Commerce, Oakland, California, November 18-20, 1996.

View the full text of this paper in HTML and POSTSCRIPT (475,922 Bytes) form.

To Become a USENIX Member, please see our Membership Information.

?Need help? Use our Contacts page.

Last changed: 15 April 2002 aw
Conference Index