Proxmark3: Useful commands

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"NFC Hacking with Proxmark3" has been conducted during a school project, in which we analyzed the implementation of our NFC System. Which includes our on-campus cards, the printing system, snacks and drinks machines and the classroom doors. The additional output of this project was a (tested) guide on how to install the Proxmark3. For further details with regards to our project, concrete tests and more advanced commands please see our documentation Proxmark3: FH-Campus Card NFC Security Valuation.

In this thread we show a short overview of the different commands the proxmark3 environment has to offer.


Please see the Proxmark3: Installation guide for a full overview of requirements. However, the Operating systems on which we tested the installation are:

  • Ubuntu 16.04/18.03
  • Windows 10
  • MacOS 10.x

In order to complete the "Introduction" described below, you have to complete the Proxmark3: Installation guide first.

This overview is based on the proxmark3 client, published on Github on the 29. May 2019


This introduction should only give you a glimpse of the available commands and possibilities of the Proxmark3. The official Proxmark3-Repository, as well as the more advanced Ice-Man-Fork Repository (both linked in the reference section), provide lots of functions, though most of them are still in their alpha stage and therefore still need a bit of tinkering in order to work well. For further commands and our security analysis of our university feel free to have a look at our documentation!

The Commands

Connect via:

Linux: ./client/proxmark3 /dev/ttyACM0
Windows ./client/proxmark3.exe COMx

After you have successfully completed the Install Proxmark3 guide, you should see a screen similar to this when connecting to your proxmark3:


You can always (in whichever menu you are) type 'help' in order to have a full list of available commands in that menu. If you enter help in the start menu, you will get following output:

help             This help. Use '<command> help' for details of a particular command.
data             { Plot window / data buffer manipulation... }
hf               { High Frequency commands... }
hw               { Hardware commands... }
lf               { Low Frequency commands... }
emv              { EMV iso14443 and iso7816... }
sc               { Smartcard commands... }
script           { Scripting commands }
quit             Exit program
exit             Exit program

command: hw

"hw" stands for hardware and lists a bunch of commands to get basic hardware information of the Proxmark3.

detectreader     ['l'|'h'] -- Detect external reader field (option 'l' or 'h' to limit to LF or HF)
fpgaoff          Set FPGA off
lcd              <HEX command> <count> -- Send command/data to LCD
lcdreset         Hardware reset LCD
readmem          [address] -- Read memory at decimal address from flash
reset            Reset the Proxmark3
setlfdivisor     <19 - 255> -- Drive LF antenna at 12Mhz/(divisor+1)
setmux           <loraw|hiraw|lopkd|hipkd> -- Set the ADC mux to a specific value
tune             ['l'|'h'] -- Measure antenna tuning (option 'l' or 'h' to limit to LF or HF)
version          Show version information about the connected Proxmark
status           Show runtime status information about the connected Proxmark
ping             Test if the pm3 is responsive

We can check the version of the different builds of the Proxmark3 currently running on it:

proxmark3> hw version
Prox/RFID mark3 RFID instrument
bootrom: master/v3.1.0-94-gd38bb3a-dirty-suspect 2019-06-01 14:36:05
os: master/v3.1.0-94-gd38bb3a-dirty-suspect 2019-06-01 14:36:22
fpga_lf.bit built for 2s30vq100 on 2015/03/06 at 07:38:04
fpga_hf.bit built for 2s30vq100 on 2019/03/20 at 08:08:07

We can now check the antenna strength of the attached antennas. If you have borrowed the proxmark3 of the Elvis IoT Lab you will get following output:

(If no smart card is in proximity):

proxmark3> hw tune
Measuring antenna characteristics, please wait.........
# LF antenna: 43.86 V @   125.00 kHz
# LF antenna: 21.04 V @   134.00 kHz
# LF optimal: 44.14 V @   123.71 kHz
# HF antenna: 30.41 V @    13.56 MHz

If we now lay a NFC card on the antennas the voltages changes:

proxmark3> hw tune
Measuring antenna characteristics, please wait.........
# LF antenna: 44.27 V @   125.00 kHz
# LF antenna: 21.04 V @   134.00 kHz
# LF optimal: 44.27 V @   123.71 kHz
# HF antenna: *19.39 V* @    13.56 MHz

We can see, that the voltage of the HF antenna dropped from 30 volts to about 19 volts. We can assume that the placed NFC card is a high frequency card.

command: hf

"hf" stands for high frequency, which are specified at a carrier frequency of about 13.56 MHz. Possible commands that can be issued are listed below:

proxmark3> hf
14a              { ISO14443A RFIDs... }
14b              { ISO14443B RFIDs... }
15               { ISO15693 RFIDs... }
epa              { German Identification Card... }
legic            { LEGIC RFIDs... }
iclass           { ICLASS RFIDs... }
mf               { MIFARE RFIDs... }
mfu              { MIFARE Ultralight RFIDs... }
mfp              { MIFARE Plus RFIDs... }
topaz            { TOPAZ (NFC Type 1) RFIDs... }
fido             { FIDO and FIDO2 authenticators... }
tune             Continuously measure HF antenna tuning
list             List protocol data in trace buffer
plot             Plot signal
search           Search for known HF tags [preliminary]
snoop            <samples to skip (10000)> <triggers to skip (1)> Generic HF Snoop

Most of these command-options are for specific cards from specific manufacturers (e.g. legic, iclass, mf). On the other hand, 14a is an NFC card standard that describes low-level communication of smart cards. Not all follow the same standard and some implement proprietary protocols. The Mifare cards are built upon the 14a standard and have additional commands which can be found in their specific directory.

You usually start with the hf search command, which sends the card some data and analyses the return messages of the card. With this information, the Proxmark3 can make assumptions on what kind of card it may be.

proxmark3> hf search
UID : 01 02 03 04
ATQA : 00 04
SAK : 08 [2]
proprietary non iso14443-4 card found, RATS not supported
Chinese magic backdoor commands (GEN 1a) detected
Prng detection: WEAK
Valid ISO14443A Tag Found - Quiting Search

Here we see that this card is classified as a Mifare Classic 1k. In particular, it also answers back to the Chinese magic backdoor command which tells us that this card is a fully cloneable card that allows us to change the UID block of the card. More on this can be found in the Documentation Proxmark3: FH-Campus Card NFC Security Valuation

We can now issue the hf plot command which will display a waveform with the just sent and received data.


Thankfully people wrote programs that will parse this data to a dedicated protocol (hf list). In this case, we want to parse it as a Mifare classic communication with hf list mf.

proxmark3> hf list mf
Recorded Activity (TraceLen = 156 bytes)
Start = Start of Start Bit, End = End of last modulation. Src = Source of Transfer
iso14443a - All times are in carrier periods (1/13.56Mhz)
iClass    - Timings are not as accurate
     Start |        End | Src | Data (! denotes parity error, ' denotes short bytes)            | CRC | Annotation         |
         0 |        992 | Rdr | 40'                                                             |     | MAGIC WUPC1
      2484 |       3060 | Tag | 0a'                                                             |     |
      7040 |       8352 | Rdr | 43                                                              |     | MAGIC WUPC2
      9524 |      10100 | Tag | 0a'                                                             |     |
     14080 |      18848 | Rdr | 50  00  57  cd                                                  |  ok | HALT
         0 |        992 | Rdr | 52'                                                             |     | WUPA
      2228 |       4596 | Tag | 04  00                                                          |     |
      7040 |       9504 | Rdr | 93  20                                                          |     | ANTICOLL
     10676 |      16564 | Tag | 01  02  03  04  04                                              |     |
     19328 |      29856 | Rdr | 93  70  01  02  03  04  04  8e  25                              |  ok | SELECT_UID
     31028 |      34548 | Tag | 08  b6  dd                                                      |     |
     47488 |      52192 | Rdr | 60  00  f5  7b                                                  |  ok | AUTH-A(0)
     54196 |      58932 | Tag | 01  20  01  45                                                  |     | AUTH: nt

More on what is happening here can be found in the documentation Proxmark3: FH-Campus Card NFC Security Valuation

There are many more commands. For example, hf data to manipulate the raw data, or hf mf to interact with Mifare Classic cards. Since this is only a short introduction to commands of the Proxmark3 we won't go deeper. If one is interested and wants to find out more about the Proxmark you we highly recommend the documentation Proxmark3: FH-Campus Card NFC Security Valuation - where not only the essentials are covered, but also an in-depth explanation about the technology used, the Proxmark itself, the Mifare Classic Standard and a validation of the FH-Campus card system.

It is definitely worth checking out the paper since it also shows which vulnerabilities were found in the school card system.

Used Hardware


Additional Documentation