Proximity verification has been implemented in an insecure way in many commercial security-critical systems. These include access systems to vehicles, buildings as well as mobile payment systems.  


A prominent example of a deployed insecure proximity-based access control system is the Passive Keyless Entry and Start (PKES) used in modern cars. This system allows car owners to open their vehicle without removing the car key from their pocket or purse. The car will open automatically when it detects that the car key is close (2 meters) and will allow to be started if the key is detected to be inside the car (a button on the front panel allows the car to be started without the need to insert a key in the lock).


Research at ETH Zurich has demonstrated that it is possible to compromise the proximity verification mechanism and open cars of others, start them, and drive away with minimal effort.


Publication: Relay Attacks on Passive Keyless Entry and Start Systems in Modern Cars 

Media reports: Tages Anzeiger, ETH Life, MIT Technology Review


To the best of our knowledge, all available systems on the market today are insecure. These insecure systems are to be found in the automotive, buildings, process automation as well as in mobile payment markets.


3db has developed a highly integrated ultra-low power single UWB integrated circuit (IC) for centimeter-precise secure distance measurement and positioning.

3db IC enables security-critical applications including keyless access control to vehicles, buildings, and mobile payments by securely verifying the proximity of two or more wireless devices.

3db UWB IC key features:

  • Supports frequency ranges in the 6 – 8 GHz ultra wideband

     – Spectrum of transmission complies with FCC and ETSI

  • UWB data communication of up to 250kBit/s
  • Two-way time-of-flight distance measurement

     – ±15cm accuracy (LOS)

     – 200 meter range (LOS)

  • Provides secure distance measurement

     – Resilient to logical-layer attacks due to implementation of provably secure distance bounding protocols

     – Resilient to physical-layer early-detect / late-commit attacks limiting distance decrease attacks to below 1 meter

     – Resilient to preable injection (referred to as Cicada) attacks with no distance decrease possible

In addition 3db IC enables numerous applications which require centimeter-precise indoor and outdoor localization for tracking and navigation such as industrial and home automation, wearable technology, and IoT.


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