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Title: Contactless payments : usability at the cost of security?
Author: Emms, Martin J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6060 5116
Awarding Body: Newcastle University
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2016
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EMV (Europay, MasterCard, Visa), commonly termed “Chip & PIN”, is becoming the dominant card based payment technology globally. The EMV Chip & PIN transaction protocol was originally designed to operate in an environment where the card was physically inserted into the POS terminal/ATM and used a wired connection to communicate. The introduction of EMV contactless payments technology raises an interesting question “has usability been improved at the cost of security?”. Specifically, to make contactless payments more convenient/usable, a wireless interface has been added to EMV cards and PIN entry has been waived for contactless payments. Do these new usability features make contactless cards less secure? This PhD thesis presents an analysis of the security of the EMV contactless payments. It considers the security of the EMV contactless transaction protocols as stand-alone processes and the wider impact of contactless technology upon the security of the EMV card payment system as a whole. The thesis contributes a structured analysis methodology which identifies vulnerabilities in the EMV protocol and demonstrates the impact of these vulnerabilities on the EMV payment system. The analysis methodology comprises UML diagrams and reference tables which describe the EMV protocol sequences, a protocol emulator which implements the protocol, a Z abstract model of the protocol and practical demonstrations of the research results. Detailed referencing of the EMV specifications provide a documented link between the exploitable vulnerabilities observed in real EMV cards and the source of the vulnerability in the EMV specifications. Our analysis methodology has identified two previously undocumented vulnerabilities in the EMV contactless transaction protocol. The potential existence of these vulnerabilities was identified using the Z abstract model with the protocol emulator providing experimental confirmation of the potential for real-world exploitation of the vulnerabilities and test results quantifying the extent of the impact. Once a vulnerability has been shown to be exploitable using the protocol emulator, we use practical demonstrations to show that these vulnerabilities can be exploited in the real-world using off-the-shelf equipment. This presents a stronger impact message when presenting our research results to a nontechnical audience. This has helped to raise awareness of security issues relating to EMV contactless cards, with our work appearing in the media, radio and TV.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available