Practical NFC Peer-to-Peer Relay Attack Using Mobile Phones

Francis L., Hancke G., Mayes K., Markantonakis K.

6th Workshop on Radio Frequency Identification Security, İstanbul, Turkey, 8 - 09 June 2010, vol.6370, pp.35-49 identifier

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • Volume: 6370
  • City: İstanbul
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.35-49
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: No


NFC is a standardised technology providing short-range RFID communication channels for mobile devices. Peer-to-peer applications for mobile devices are receiving increased interest and in some cases these services are relying on NFC communication. It has been suggested that NFC systems are particularly vulnerable to relay attacks, and that the attacker's proxy devices could even be implemented using off-the-shelf NFC-enabled devices. This paper describes how a relay attack can be implemented against systems using legitimate peer-to-peer NFC communication by developing and installing suitable MIDlets on the attacker's own NFC-enabled mobile phones. The attack does not need to access secure program memory nor use any code signing, and can use publicly available APIs. We go on to discuss how relay attack countermeasures using device location could be used in the mobile environment. These countermeasures could also be applied to prevent relay attacks on contactless applications using 'passive' NFC on mobile phones.