New near-field scanner may protect bank cards against fraud

April 7th, 2009 - 2:36 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, April 7 (ANI): Bank cards may now be protected against fraud, thanks to a near-field scanner that can accurately detect weak fields.

The development of this scanner is a result of the joint efforts made by researchers from the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Electronic Nano Systems ENAS in Paderborn and Continental and Infineon Technologies.

“(Electronic) Circuits are becoming more and more susceptible with each generation. Only a few years ago, it still took several volts to destabilize processors. Today, a few hundred millivolts are sometimes enough to disrupt millions of transistors,” says Thomas Mager of the Fraunhofer ENAS.

This, according to him, suggests that designers of electronic circuits need to give greater consideration to electromagnetic compatibility.

The researchers say that their near-field scanner can scan not only individual chips and processors but also complete laptops, cell phones or aircraft control units, and can reveal which types of field the test object is radiating.

“We are also working with our French project partner CEA-Leti on a function that applies targeted electromagnetic fields to the test object. In this way, we can test for areas that respond sensitively to external fields,” says Mager.

The researchers believe that the developers of smart cards may find the new system very interesting.

They point out that fraudsters elicit confidential information from bank cards by bombarding them with pulses of laser light, electrical current or voltage, and the resulting field patterns can reveal details about the chip card, such as its PIN number.

According to them, the near-field scanner provides time- and space-resolved images of the radiated fields of the card, allowing their weak points to be identified and helping card developers to better protect their products against fraud. (ANI)

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