Paper 2019/1350

Message Time of Arrival Codes: A Fundamental Primitive for Secure Distance Measurement

Patrick Leu, Mridula Singh, Marc Roeschlin, Kenneth G. Paterson, and Srdjan Capkun


Secure distance measurement and therefore secure Time-of-Arrival (ToA) measurement is critical for applications such as contactless payments, passive-keyless entry and start systems, and navigation systems. This paper initiates the study of Message Time of Arrival Codes (MTACs) and their security. MTACs represent a core primitive in the construction of systems for secure ToA measurement. By surfacing MTACs in this way, we are able for the first time to formally define the security requirements of physical-layer measures that protect ToA measurement systems against attacks. Our viewpoint also enables us to provide a unified presentation of existing MTACs (such as those proposed in distance-bounding protocols and in a secure distance measurement standard) and to propose basic principles for protecting ToA measurement systems against attacks that remain unaddressed by existing mechanisms. We also use our perspective to systematically explore the tradeoffs between security and performance that apply to all signal modulation techniques enabling ToA measurements.

Available format(s)
Publication info
Preprint. MINOR revision.
Secure RangingMTAC
Contact author(s)
mridula singh @ inf ethz ch
2019-11-27: received
Short URL
Creative Commons Attribution


      author = {Patrick Leu and Mridula Singh and Marc Roeschlin and Kenneth G.  Paterson and Srdjan Capkun},
      title = {Message Time of Arrival Codes: A Fundamental Primitive for Secure Distance Measurement},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2019/1350},
      year = {2019},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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