Android Software Card Emulation

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Software Card Emulation on Android

Before Android 4.4



Android phone with a PN544 NFC chipset



  • Random UID (starting with "08")
  • SAK (SEL_RES): 60
    • Compliant with ISO/IEC 14443-4
    • Compliant with ISO/IEC 18092
  • ATS: 78 33 88 00
    • Max Frame Size accepted by PICC: 256 bytes
    • Bit Rate Capability:
      • PICC to PCD, DS=2, bitrate 212 kbits/s supported
      • PICC to PCD, DS=4, bitrate 424 kbits/s supported
      • PCD to PICC, DR=2, bitrate 212 kbits/s supported
      • PCD to PICC, DR=4, bitrate 424 kbits/s supported
    • Frame Waiting Time: 77.33 ms
    • Start-up Frame Guard Time: 77.33 ms
    • Node Address not supported
    • Card IDentifier not supported
  • Corresponding ATR: 3B80800101


  • Random PUPI
  • Application Data: 00 00 00 00
  • Protocol Info: 33 81 84
    • Bit Rate Capability:
      • PICC to PCD, 1etu=64/fc, bitrate 212 kbits/s supported
      • PICC to PCD, 1etu=32/fc, bitrate 424 kbits/s supported
      • PCD to PICC, 1etu=64/fc, bitrate 212 kbits/s supported
      • PCD to PICC, 1etu=32/fc, bitrate 424 kbits/s supported
    • Maximum frame sizes: 256 bytes
    • Protocol types supported: ISO/IEC 14443-4
    • Frame Waiting Time: 77.33 ms


The PN544 chip is also able to emulate FeliCa even if it's not (yet) accessible from Android API but this means if an external FeliCa reader is polling the phone it can get something like FeliCa target:

  • Random ID (NFCID2): 01 fe nn nn nn nn nn nn
  • Parameter (PAD): c0 c1 c2 c3 c4 c5 c6 c7
  • System Code (SC): 0f ab


On a Nexus S locked at 1000MHz and idle, a delay of about 30ms is still measured. It goes to 60ms if CPU is busy or occasionally even higher under "on demand" CPU scheduler.


Software CE is not possible yet on stock Android but patches have been made for CyanogenMod and they are integrated in the official release since v10.1.

So, easiest is to install cyanogenmod 10.1 (or more recent if available), see instructions

Example of PKI smartcard

This example is taken from this very interesting post and its source code, adapted for CyanogenMod 10.1 and compiled under Linux in command line.
It's a small example emulating a card able to do a PIN verify then a signature, a bit like some eIDs.

Compile application

Following instructions how to compile Android app in command line

git clone
cd virtual-pki-card/se-emulator
mkdir -p $DEV_HOME/obj
mkdir -p $DEV_HOME/bin
mkdir -p $DEV_HOME/lib

Create dummy keystore

$JAVA_HOME/bin/keytool -genkeypair \
                -validity 10000 \
                -dname "CN=company name,
                        OU=organisational unit,
                        C=country code" \
                -keystore $DEV_HOME/AndroidTest.keystore \
                -storepass password \
                -keypass password \
                -alias AndroidTestKey \
                -keyalg RSA \


$ANDROID_HOME/platform-tools/aapt package -v -f -m \
    -S $DEV_HOME/res -J $DEV_HOME/src -M $DEV_HOME/AndroidManifest.xml \
    -I $ANDROID_HOME/platforms/$TARGET/android.jar || exit 1

Compile Java

$JAVA_HOME/bin/javac -verbose -d $DEV_HOME/obj \
    -classpath "$ANDROID_HOME/platforms/$TARGET/android.jar:$DEV_HOME/obj" \
    -sourcepath $DEV_HOME/src \
    $DEV_HOME/src/$PACKAGE_SLASH/*.java || exit 1

Create DEX

$ANDROID_HOME/platform-tools/dx --dex --verbose \
    --output=$DEV_HOME/bin/classes.dex \
    $DEV_HOME/obj $DEV_HOME/lib || exit 1

Create APK

$ANDROID_HOME/platform-tools/aapt package -v -f \
    -S $DEV_HOME/res -M $DEV_HOME/AndroidManifest.xml \
    -I $ANDROID_HOME/platforms/$TARGET/android.jar \
    -F $DEV_HOME/bin/AndroidTest.unsigned.apk \
    $DEV_HOME/bin || exit 1

Sign APK

$JAVA_HOME/bin/jarsigner -verbose \
    -keystore $DEV_HOME/AndroidTest.keystore \
    -storepass password \
    -keypass password \
    -signedjar $DEV_HOME/bin/AndroidTest.signed.apk \
    $DEV_HOME/bin/AndroidTest.unsigned.apk \
    AndroidTestKey || exit 1

Zip-align APK

$ANDROID_HOME/tools/zipalign -v -f 4 \
    $DEV_HOME/bin/AndroidTest.signed.apk \
    $DEV_HOME/bin/AndroidTest.apk || exit 1

Install application

sudo adb install $DEV_HOME/bin/AndroidTest.apk

Create certificate

As this example is using a certificate to sign data, we need to create it.

cd virtual-pki-card
mkdir cert
cd cert

Create a template mykey.conf:

[ req ]
default_bits           = 1024
distinguished_name     = req_distinguished_name
prompt                 = no
output_password        = 1234

[ req_distinguished_name ]
C                      = BE
ST                     = MyCity
O                      = MyOrg

Create certificate:

openssl req -new -x509 -keyout mykey.pem -out mycert.pem -config mykey.conf
openssl pkcs12 -export -in mycert.pem -inkey mykey.pem -passin pass:1234 -passout pass: > mykey.pfx

Install it:

sudo adb push mykey.pfx /sdcard/
cp mycert.pem ../se-pki-client/

On the phone:
Run application "PKI Applet Emulator"

  • Install PKCS#12
    • no passwd
    • if needed create a lock PIN on the phone (to be able to store certs)
    • choose cert: select this one, ok
  • Set PIN=1234

If reading cert fails, check in CyanogenMod developer options that "Protect USB storage" is not activated.
Storing certs require that you defined a screen lock PIN too, do it if needed.

Reader application


cd se-pki-client
javac src/org/nick/sepkiclient/


java -cp src org.nick.sepkiclient.Main 1234 mycert.pem
Place phone/card on reader to start
--> 00A4040006A0000000010101
<-- 9000
--> 800100000431323334
<-- 9000
--> 80020000087369676E206D6521
<-- 7C19AAE869DD6C2A9C4AAB98E65FEFDF88C0764EDDAD1BE660BBA220237BA7F4D46B08080E925737D7D ...

Got signature from card: 7C19AAE869DD6C2A9C4AAB98E65FEFDF88C0764EDDAD1BE660BBA220237BA7F4D46B08080E925737D7D ...
Will use certificate from 'mycert.pem' to verify signature
	Issuer: O=MyOrg, ST=MyCity, C=BE
	Subject: O=MyOrg, ST=Mycity, C=BE
	Not Before: Thu Sep 05 11:46:55 CEST 2013
	Not After: Sat Oct 05 11:46:55 CEST 2013

Signature is valid: true


Measured on a Nexus S, stats over 20 runs:

With CPU locked at 1000MHz (CPU sceduler = performance) and idle

  • Resp to SelectApp: 32ms (std. dev. 11%)
  • Resp to VerifyPIN(*): 296ms (std. dev. 3%)
  • Resp to GetSign(**): 67ms ( 18%)

With CPU locked at 1000MHz (CPU sceduler = performance) and busy with infinite loop

  • Resp to SelectApp: 63ms (std. dev. 15%)
  • Resp to VerifyPIN(*): 600ms (std. dev. 4%)
  • Resp to GetSign(**): 100ms ( 20%)

(*) : the phone does a PBKDF2 on the PIN : 5000 x SHA1 hashes
(**) : the phone does a 1024-bit RSA signature


If you want to emulate a TypeB card rather than a TypeA card, simply edit the app sources virtual-pki-card/se-emulator and replace all occurrences of PCDA into PCDB and PcdA into PcdB.

$ grep -i -n -r pcda .
./src/org/nick/se/emulator/    private static final String TECH_ISO_PCDA = "";
./src/org/nick/se/emulator/        techLists = new String[][] { { "" } };
./src/org/nick/se/emulator/            if (!techList.contains(TECH_ISO_PCDA)) {
./src/org/nick/se/emulator/                Log.e(TAG, "IsoPcdA not found in tech list");
./src/org/nick/se/emulator/            TagWrapper tw = new TagWrapper(tag, TECH_ISO_PCDA);
./res/xml/filter_nfc.xml:4:                             <tech></tech>

Example using Lateral Security tools


Examples of MitM

Of course once you can emulate a card you can also mount a MitM attack on ISO14443-4 cards:

Since Android 4.4

See official description

NFC card-emulation and Android 4.4

  • Part 1: intro to card emulation
  • Part 2: coexistence of several secure elements
  • Part 3: how AID routing is used to create an open ecosystem
  • Part 4: edge-cases of HCE and some differences from the embedded secure element

NFC Card-Emulation Catch-All Routing, a Xposed module to route all AIDs to your app.


HCE vs embedded secure element by Cem Paya aka RandomOracle:

HCE security implications whitepaper (pdf)