Proximity Assurances Based on Natural and Artificial Ambient Environments

Iakovos Gurulian, Konstantinos Markantonakis, Carlton Shepherd, Eibe Frank, Raja Akram

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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Relay attacks are passive man-in-the-middle attacks that aim to extend the physical distance of devices involved in a transaction beyond their operating environment. In the field of smart cards, distance bounding protocols have been proposed in order to counter relay attacks. For smartphones, meanwhile, the natural ambient environment surrounding the devices has been proposed as a potential Proximity and Relay-Attack Detection (PRAD) mechanism. These proposals, however, are not compliant with industry-imposed constraints that stipulate maximum transaction completion times, e.g. 500 milliseconds for EMV contactless transactions. We evaluated the effectiveness of 17 ambient sensors that are widely-available in modern smartphones as a PRAD method for time-restricted contactless transactions. In our work, both similarity- and machine learning-based analyses demonstrated limited effectiveness of natural ambient sensing as a PRAD mechanism under the operating requirements for proximity and transaction duration specified by EMV and ITSO. To address this, we propose the generation of an Artificial Ambient Environment (AAE) as a robust alternative for an effective PRAD. The use of infrared light as a potential PRAD mechanism is evaluated, and our results indicate a high success rate while remaining compliant with industry requirements.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication10th International Conference, SecITC 2017, Bucharest, Romania, June 8–9, 2017, Revised Selected Papers
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-69284-5
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-69283-8
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event10th International Conference on Security for Information Technology and Communications - Bucharest University of Economic Studies, Bucharest, Romania
Duration: 8 Jul 2016 → …

Publication series

NameSecurity and Cryptology


Conference10th International Conference on Security for Information Technology and Communications
Abbreviated titleSECITC 2017
Period8/07/16 → …


  • Mobile Payments
  • Relay Attacks
  • Ambient Environment Sensing
  • Contactless
  • Experimental Analysis

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