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Nagra CCR
Credit Card Recorder - wanted item

The Credit Card Recorder (CCR), is a sophisticated hi-end electronic body wearable miniature audio recorder in a credit card shape, developed by Nagra Kudelski 1 in Romanel (Switzerland) around 2013. Like its predecessor, the Nagra CBR, the CCR is a classified device that is not listed in Nagra's catalogue. It is only available to the law enforcement and intelligence community. The device is also known by its National Stock Number NSN 5835-12-388-6808. A similar device, the Nagra CCT, is available as a covert body-wearable Transmitter in the shape of a credit card [A].

The image on the right shows a selection of Nagra CCR devices, as they are shown in their brochure [A]. The device has the size of a credit card and is just 1.5 mm thick. It can be printed with any image, so that it can be disguised as a regular chest-worn identification badge, making it good enough to fool the casual observer.

Despite the fact that the exact specifications are classified, some interesting details have leaked out through official US Government procurement tenders, as listed below. The device can record 16-bit Linear PCM audio at 24 kHz, and a USB-enabled docking station is needed for play-back.

In May 2013, the US Government decided to purchase some CCR devices which, according to US law, had to be done in an open bidding competition. As no reasonable alternatives for the CCR were available on the open market, the Government then decided to single-source the device, but it is unclear who the buying party was. According to the New York City Record [1], the devices were procured by the Department of Investigation (DoI), with AM and S Associates being the sole source. Another tender states that the devices were procured through the Department of the Air Force [2], although a later tender lists the General Services Administration as the buyer [4].

The diagram above shows the location of the microphone, the capacitive ON/OFF sensor and the LED indicator. The contact pads are identical to those on a smart card, but are used here for connection to the docking station. They are used for data transfer and battery charging. The reverse side of the credit card (i.e. the front) can be printed like a regular credit card or ID badge.

The cards are usually supplied in neutral white, but can be printed by Nagra with a user-specified design. Alternatively, removable adhesive labels can be used if the user wishes to print his own designs. The function of the LED indicator is fully programmable and can be disabled completely if necessary. The recorder is operated with the ON/OFF button, or can be voice actuated (VOX).

  1. The brochure [A] specifies the manufacturer as Nagra Audio, but at the US Department of Defense, the company is known as Nagra Kudelski GmbH [10].

The Nagra CCR is generally used in combination with a USB docking station, that is used for charging the internal LiPo-battery, downloading the audio data stored on the card and changing any of the internal settings. In addition there are several chargers for single or multiple cards. According to the brochure [A], the following set of accessories was available in 2014. The same accessories can be used with Nagra's later covert body-wearable Credit Card Transmitter (CCT).

  1. CCR-DS
    Docking station (USB)
  2. CCR-DS-2
    Single docking station (USB) with two extra slots for charging
  3. CCR
    Credit Card Recorder (with example print)
  4. CCT-CC
    Mobile charger for one CCR or CCT card
  5. CCR-MCC
    Charger for five cards
Although the Nagra CCR is not featured on the Nagra website and its brochures are only supplied to approved customers, the Russian version of the brochure can be downloaded freely from the internet [A]. From the photographs and descriptions in the brochure, we can make a few guesses. The diagram below shows the interior of the Nagra CCR as seen from the front. About 2/3 of the available space is taken by the rechargable LiPo battery. The remaining 1/3 is for the actual PCB.

The PCB measures 30 x 50 mm and is soldered directly to the battery terminals. At the bottom right is the capacitive ON/OFF button, whilst the ON/OFF LED is close to the top left. A sub­mini­ature MEMS microphone is located at the top right. Sound is guided to the microphone via three small holes with a diameter of just 50 µm. At the top left is the main controller. At the center of the PCB is a (removable?) 4GB Micro SD memory card on which the recorded audio is stored [A].

Nagra ID card
A few years earlier, in 2011, Nagra had already shown that it was capable of producing security equipment in the shape of a credit card. In a joint effort with security firm Symantec and credit card company MasterCard, the newly established NagraID showed off at the RSA Conference [7].

The image on the right shows a MasterCard® Display Card, that promises to bring very strong authentication functionality to credit cards. The devices looks like a standard MasterCard®, but features a built-in Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) combined with Symantec's acclaimed VeriSign® Identity Protection (VIP) authentication service.

Although this device is not related to the CCR recorder, it clearly shows what Nagra is capable of. It proves that a fully featured microcontroller, a power source and peripherals (e.g. LCD) can be embedded in a standard card, just 1.5 mm thick.

Instead of the LCD display, the CCR recorder needs a very sensitive high-quality microphone that is less than 1.5 mm thick. It is very likely that MEMS technology [8] is used for this. MEMS micro­phones are extremely small (e.g. 2.75 x 1.7 x 0.9 mm) and directly produce a digital signal. A real challenge would be the power source. It is likely that ultrathin rechargable Lithium Polymer batteries are used to provide the necessary energy. LiPo batteries can be made as thin as 0.5 mm.

Although the Nagra CCR is still a classified 1 device, similar solutions from other manufacturers have meanwhile turned up. One example is the Colibri Credit card size audio recorder that is made by Sekotech in Lithuania [9]. It has the same dimensions as the Nagra CCR and has nearly identical specifications. Like the CCR, it comes with a USB-enabled docking station.

  1. Situation in 2022.

Technical specifications
  • Device
    Covert audio recorder
  • Form factor
    Credit card
  • Manufacturer
  • Power
    5V via USB, cigarette lighter 9-16V DC (2W)
  • Format
    16-bit 24 kHz Linear PCM
  • Audio
    20 Hz - 11.5 kHz (-3dB)
  • Memory
    4GB (Micro SD)
  • Temperature
    -20°C - +60°C
  • Battery
    LiPo, 23 hours
  • Standby
    2 months
  • Charge
    90 minutes
  • Clock
    Internal real-time
  • Play-back
    Docking station with 16-bit 24 kHz Linear PCM and USB interface
  • Protection
    Software dongle
  • Authentication
    Digital signature
  • Accessories
    Carrying case, badge holder, double sided printer
  • Dimensions
    85 x 54 x 1.5 mm
  • Weight
    < 5 g
  1. Nagra CCR и Nagra CCT brochure (Russian)
    Nagra Audio Technology. Date unknown, but probably October 2013.
    Document not marked as secret or confidential.

  2. Smart card physical specifications
    Crypto Museum, 24 March 2024.
  1. The City Record, Nagra CCR smartcard recorder and docking station kit
    PIN# 2013273. 23 May 2013. Page 1261. Downloaded July 2016.

  2. FBO Daily, Nagra CCR Recorders - Letter of Intent to Sole Source
    5 June 2013.

  3. OnBid, Nagra CCR Smart Card Recorder & Docking Station Kit
    Website. 22 March 2013.

  4. dgMarket, Brand Name or Equal NAGRA CCR Recorder
    GS-00J-14-ADP-0006. 18 April 2014.

  5., Brand Name or Equal NAGRA CCR Recorder
    OS106994. 22 March 2013.

  6., Brand Name or Equal NAGRA CCR Recorder
    GS-00J-14-ADP-0006. 18 April 2014.

  7. Business Wire, MasterCard, Symantec and NagraID...
    RSA Conference 2011. 14 February 2011.

  8. Wikipedia, Microphone (MEMS microphone)
    Retrieved July 2016.

  9. Sekotech, Colibri - Credit card size audio recorder
    12 July 2015. Retrieved July 2016.

  10. NSN Center, Nagra Kudelski GmbH
    Retrieved January 2017.

  11. Ormax, Nagra CCR (Gravador) / Nagra CCT (Transmissor)
    Retrieved January 2017.
Further information
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Crypto Museum. Created: Monday 18 July 2016. Last changed: Wednesday, 08 May 2024 - 12:26 CET.
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