ChameleonMini can emulate and clone NFC cards


This open source, programmable device can emulate and clone contactless cards, read RFID tags and sniff RF data.


Over the last several years, researchers David Oswald and Timo Kasper have been hard at work developing a family of NFC security projects. Their efforts, which began with a tag-emulating coffee cup, have led to the newly-unveiled ChameleonMini — an NFC analysis device capable of cloning contactless cards, as well as reading RFID tags and sniffing RF data.

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The completely portable, extremely versatile tool can virtualize up to eight contactless cards operating at 13.56MHz. The board itself consists of a PCB antenna along with an ATXMega128A4U that handles the RF encoding and USB interface, and a rechargeable Li-ion battery that provides hour-long standalone use. The microcontroller’s AES and DES hardware engines enable speedy computation of cryptographic algorithms. In other words, if your contactless card has encryption and you have the cryptographic key, the ChameleonMini can replicate it.

The freely-programmable platform can create perfect clones of existing commercial smart cards, including cryptographic functions and the Unique Identifier (UID). Aside from emulating NFC devices, the ChameleonMini can even appear passive in a sniff mode, log the RFID communication, and serve as a basic RFID reader.

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A convenient, human-readable command set allows to configure its behavior and update the settings and content of up to eight internally stored, virtualized contactless cards. During battery-powered standalone operation, the integrated buttons and LEDs offer user interaction and feedback.

The ChameleonMini can be easily equipped with new firmware via a USB bootloader. It can be interfaced with a standard terminal software, via the command line or controlled through user-written scripts and applications. What’s more, the modular firmware structure gives expandability to other not yet supported cards and standards.

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There are several variants of the ChameleonMini, which range from a barebones PCB version to a budget-friendly, emulator-only version to the latest iteration (Rev.G) with all the bells and whistles. Intrigued? Head over to its Kickstarter campaign, where Oswald and Kasper have blown right by their $24,258 goal. Delivery is slated for August 2016.

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