Tap-Tap and Pay (TTP): Preventing the Mafia Attack in NFC Payment

  • Maryam Mehrnezhad
  • Feng Hao
  • Siamak F. Shahandashti
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9497)


Mobile NFC payment is an emerging industry, estimated to reach $670 billion by 2015. The Mafia attack presents a realistic threat to payment systems including mobile NFC payment. In this attack, a user consciously initiates an NFC payment against a legitimate-looking NFC reader (controlled by the Mafia), not knowing that the reader actually relays the data to a remote legitimate NFC reader to pay for something more expensive. In this paper, we present “Tap-Tap and Pay” (TTP), to effectively prevent the Mafia attack in mobile NFC payment. In TTP, a user initiates an NFC payment by physically tapping her mobile phone against the reader twice in succession. The physical tapping causes transient vibrations at both devices, which can be measured by the embedded accelerometers. Our experiments indicate that the two measurements are closely correlated if they are from the same tapping, and are different if obtained from different tapping events. By comparing the similarity between the two measurements, we can effectively tell apart the Mafia fraud from a legitimate NFC transaction. To evaluate the practical feasibility of this solution, we present a prototype of the TTP system based on a pair of NFC-enabled mobile phones and also conduct a user study. The results suggest that our solution is reliable, fast, easy-to-use and has good potential for practical deployment.


Near Field Communication Mobile NFC payment Mafia attack MITM attack Mobile sensor Accelerometer Security Usability 



We thank all the participants who contributed to our experiments. We also thank the anonymous reviewers of this paper. The second and the third authors are supported by ERC Starting Grant No. 306994.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maryam Mehrnezhad
    • 1
  • Feng Hao
    • 1
  • Siamak F. Shahandashti
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Computing ScienceNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK

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