Evaluation of the Detached Power Supply as Side-Channel Analysis Countermeasure for Passive UHF RFID Tags

  • Thomas Plos
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 5473)


Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is an emerging technology that has found its way into many applications, even in security related areas. Integration of cryptographic algorithms into RFID tags is necessary and the implementation of them needs to be secure against side-channel analysis (SCA) attacks. RFID tags operating in the ultra-high frequency (UHF) range are susceptible to so-called parasitic-backscatter attacks, which can be applied from a distance. In this article, we evaluate the efficiency of the detached power-supply countermeasure by applying it to a smart card and performing differential power analysis (DPA) attacks. Consecutively, we discuss the suitability of this countermeasure for protecting passive UHF tags from parasitic-backscatter attacks. The results show that the non-ideal properties of the analog switches used by the detached power supply decrease the effectiveness of this countermeasure. Moreover, we have identified side-channel leakage at the I/O pin of the smart card as a considerable problem for the detached power-supply approach. We conclude that utilizing the detached power supply to protect passive UHF tags from parasitic-backscatter attacks is feasible, if the integration interval is sufficiently long and the analog switches have adequate properties. However, longer integration intervals also increase the power loss of the tag, resulting in reduced read ranges.


Differential Power Analysis Side-Channel Analysis Deta-ched Power Supply Parasitic Backscatter RFID UHF 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Batina, L., Guajardo, J., Kerins, T., Mentens, N., Tuyls, P., Verbauwhede, I.: Public-Key Cryptography for RFID-Tags. In: Workshop on RFID Security 2006 (RFIDSec 2006), Graz, Austria, July 12-14 (2006)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Corsonello, P., Perri, S., Margala, M.: A New Charge-Pump Based Countermeasure Against Differential Power Analysis. In: Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on ASIC (ASICON 2005), vol. 1, pp. 66–69. IEEE, Los Alamitos (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Curty, J.-P., Declercq, M., Dehollain, C., Joehl, N.: Design and Optimization of Passive UHF RFID Systems. Springer, Heidelberg (2007)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Facen, A., Boni, A.: Power supply generation in cmos passive uhf rfid tags. Research in Microelectronics and Electronics 2006, Ph. D., pp. 33–36 (June 2006)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Feldhofer, M., Dominikus, S., Wolkerstorfer, J.: Strong Authentication for RFID Systems using the AES Algorithm. In: Joye, M., Quisquater, J.-J. (eds.) CHES 2004. LNCS, vol. 3156, pp. 357–370. Springer, Heidelberg (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Finkenzeller, K.: RFID-Handbook, 2nd edn. Carl Hanser Verlag (2003) ISBN 0-470-84402-7Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Gandolfi, K., Mourtel, C., Olivier, F.: Electromagnetic Analysis: Concrete Results. In: Koç, Ç.K., Naccache, D., Paar, C. (eds.) CHES 2001. LNCS, vol. 2162, pp. 251–261. Springer, Heidelberg (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Gebotys, C.H., Ho, S., Tiu, C.C.: EM Analysis of Rijndael and ECC on a Wireless Java-Based PDA. In: Rao, J.R., Sunar, B. (eds.) CHES 2005. LNCS, vol. 3659, pp. 250–264. Springer, Heidelberg (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Hein, D., Wolkerstorfer, J., Felber, N.: ECC is Ready for RFID - A Proof in Silicon. In: Selected Areas in Cryptography, 15th International Workshop, SAC 2008, Sackville, Canada, August 14-15 (2008); revised Selected Papers. LNCS (September 2008)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Hofferek, G., Wolkerstorfer, J.: Coupon Recalculation for the GPS Authentication Scheme. In: Grimaud, G., Standaert, F.-X. (eds.) CARDIS 2008. LNCS, vol. 5189, pp. 162–175. Springer, Heidelberg (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hutter, M., Mangard, S., Feldhofer, M.: Power and EM Attacks on Passive 13.56 MHz RFID Devices. In: Paillier, P., Verbauwhede, I. (eds.) CHES 2007. LNCS, vol. 4727, pp. 320–333. Springer, Heidelberg (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    International Organisation for Standardization (ISO). ISO/IEC 7816: Identification cards - Integrated circuit(s) cards with contacts (1989)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kirkpatrick, D.A., Sangiovanni-Vincentelli, A.L.: Techniques For Crosstalk Avoidance In The Physical Design Of High-performance Digital Systems. In: IEEE/ACM International Conference on Computer-Aided Design, 1994E, pp. 616–619 (November 1994)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Kocher, P.C., Jaffe, J., Jun, B.: Differential Power Analysis. In: Wiener, M. (ed.) CRYPTO 1999. LNCS, vol. 1666, pp. 388–397. Springer, Heidelberg (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Man, A.S., Zhang, E.S., Lau, V.K., Tsui, C., Luong, H.C.: Low Power VLSI Design for a RFID Passive Tag baseband System Enhanced with an AES Cryptography Engine. In: Proceedings of 1st Annual RFID Eurasia, Istanbul, Turkey, September 5-6, 2007, pp. 1–6. IEEE, Los Alamitos (2007)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Mangard, S., Oswald, E., Popp, T.: Power Analysis Attacks – Revealing the Secrets of Smart Cards. Springer, Heidelberg (2007)zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    McLoone, M., Robshaw, M.J.B.: Public Key Cryptography and RFID Tags. In: Abe, M. (ed.) CT-RSA 2007. LNCS, vol. 4377, pp. 372–384. Springer, Heidelberg (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Midya, P.: Efficiency analysis of switched capacitor doubler. In: IEEE 39th Midwest symposium on Circuits and Systems, 1996, vol.  3, pp. 1019–1022 (August 1996)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). FIPS-197: Advanced Encryption Standard (November 2001),
  20. 20.
    Oren, Y., Shamir, A.: Remote Password Extraction from RFID Tags. IEEE Transactions on Computers 56(9), 1292–1296 (2007)MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Plos, T.: Susceptibility of UHF RFID Tags to Electromagnetic Analysis. In: Malkin, T.G. (ed.) CT-RSA 2008. LNCS, vol. 4964, pp. 288–300. Springer, Heidelberg (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Shamir, A.: Protecting Smart Cards from Passive Power Analysis with Detached Power Supplies. In: Paar, C., Koç, Ç.K. (eds.) CHES 2000. LNCS, vol. 1965, pp. 71–77. Springer, Heidelberg (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Shamir, A.: Method and Apparatus for Protecting RFID Tags from Power Analysis. Patent Number WO 2008/019246 A2 (February 2008),
  24. 24.
    Tuyls, P., Batina, L.: RFID-Tags for Anti-counterfeiting. In: Pointcheval, D. (ed.) CT-RSA 2006. LNCS, vol. 3860, pp. 115–131. Springer, Heidelberg (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Yang, Z., Mourad, S.: Deep Submicron On-chip Crosstalk. In: Proceedings of the 16th IEEE Instrumentation and Measurement Technology Conference, 1999. IMTC 1999, vol. 3, pp. 1788–1793 (1999)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Plos
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Applied Information Processing and Communications (IAIK)Graz University of TechnologyGrazAustria

Personalised recommendations