Posts Tagged ‘biometric’

UK Government HQAbstract: A UK government-backed report that explores certain security flaws in RFID / contactless technology.  Well worth a read is this…

Source: http://www.ico.gov.uk

“It will be the responsibility of RFID users to prevent any unauthorised access to personal information. One concern is a practice that has become known as “skimming”. Since a transponder’s signal can be picked up by any compatible reader, it is possible for RFID tags to be read by unauthorised readers, which could access personal information stored on them. Users can guard against skimming by using passwords. The EPCglobal Class 1 Generation 2 RFID specification enables the use of a password for accessing a tag’s memory. However, these are not immune to “hacking”.

Most RFID systems require a short distance between tag and reader, making it difficult for “rogue” readers to scan tags but this could nevertheless be done in a situation where people are naturally at close range, for example, on a crowded train. The nominal read range of some tags can also be extended by the use of more powerful readers. It is also possible to read part of a tag’s number by eavesdropping merely on a reader’s communication with a tag. Readers, with a much higher power output than tags, can be read at much greater distances.

While some RFID applications might not need communication between tag and reader to be encrypted, others that process personal and especially sensitive personal data will need an adequate level of encryption to safeguard the data being processed. In most cases “skimmers” would also need a way of accessing the external database containing the personal data, but in some cases inferences might be made about someone from information which in itself does not relate directly to him. If a person leaves a store having purchased items carrying RFID tags that have not been disabled, he carries with him a potential inventory of his possessions. This would enable someone with a suitable reader and knowledge of EPC references to discover what items he was carrying at a given time. Sensitive personal data about a person’s illness, for example, might be unknowingly revealed by him via the EPC referring to the medication in his pocket. An insufficiently secure RFID chip could also be “cloned”. By copying personal data stored on the RFID chip of an identification card, a person could for practical purposes steal the identity of the cardholder. If the information on the database (e.g., a fingerprint) is checked only against the information on the card, rather than directly against the person himself, a criminal would not need to access the information stored on the database.”

http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/library/data_protection/detailed_specialist_guides/radio_frequency_indentification_tech_guidance.pdf

For more information visit:  RFID Protect

Finally, if you’re in any doubt as to whether or not RFID skimming is a real threat, then perhaps watch the following video evidence.

Video evidence from the United States of America, claiming that RFID enabled devices are vulnerable to skimming, cloning and hacking.

Electronic Pickpocket – YouTube Video
(Approx. 4minutes – n.b: opens in a new window.)

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Google has finally accepted that it harvested personal data from wireless networks as its fleet of vehicles drove down residential roads taking photographs for the Street View project. And yet only a few months ago it would have screamed ‘blue murder’ if anyone intimated that this had happened. Now it transpires that millions of internet users have potentially been affected. Google’s acknowledgment of guilt is an interesting U-turn from its earlier assertion that no sensitive personal information had been taken.

Google has now confessed that its, “…vehicles had also gather(ed) information about the location of wireless networks, the devices which connect computers to the telecommunications network via radio waves.”

The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that, “…Privacy International lodged a complaint with Scotland Yard earlier this year about Google’s Street View activities and officers are still considering whether a crime has been committed. Google is facing prosecution in France and a class action in the US, with similar lawsuits pending in other countries.”

The full story can be read at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

Whilst this development does not relate specifically to RFID or contactless technology as such, nonetheless it’s an excellent example of a large multi-national operation initially stating – “guys, what’s the problem – there’s nothing to worry about your wireless internet connection because we’ve ensured that it’s 100% secure” – and then a few months later we arrive at a different place – “…er, you know that technology that we told you was secure, well there’s been a slight issue with it and as a result your email, passwords and other sensitive information are now in the public domain – whoops, sorry about that…”

Therefore it could be reasonably argued that whilst today contactless credit, debit, Oyster, and Olympics 2012 RFID passes are all being sold as 100% safe – tomorrow may bring with it a somewhat different outlook…

Watch this space, and in the meantime can you afford not to protect your biometric details now?

Dutch security researchers rode the London Underground free for a day after easily using an ordinary laptop to clone the “smartcards” commuters use to pay fares, a hack that highlights a serious security flaw because similar cards provide access to thousands of government offices, hospitals and schools.

There are more than 17 million of the transit cards, called Oyster Cards, in circulation. Transport for London says the breach poses no threat to passengers and “the most anyone could gain from a rogue card is one day’s travel.” But this is about more than stealing a free fare or even cribbing any personal information that might be on the cards.

Oyster Cards feature the same Mifare chip used in security cards that provide access to thousands of secure locations. Security experts say the breach poses a threat to public safety and the cards should be replaced.

“The cryptography is simply not fit for purpose,” security consultant Adam Laurie told the Telegraph. “It’s very vulnerable and we can expect the bad guys to hack into it soon if they haven’t already.”

By Alexander Lew  Email Author| June 24, 2008

Source: http://www.wired.com/autopia/2008/06/hackers-crack-l/

In the UK we stand at the dawn of a new era, the emergence of a new way of conducting business and our lives – welcome to the RFID enabled World! But as is the case with the roll-out of any new technology, we may not be fully aware of the associated challenges. Will our identity remain safe from the unscrupulous career criminals? How can we protect ourselves from card skimming and cloning. These are just some of the many questions that this site hopes to address into the future. We hope you’ll contribute, and that this resource will prove useful in some way.