Posts Tagged ‘rfid skimming’

Eavesdropping attacks on RFID enabled devices, such as e-passports and contactless credit cards or secure door entry systemsThis extraordinary academic paper, with its practical experiments, presents actual ‘proof-of-concept’ eavesdropping attacks across a range of RFID enabled devices.

The author, G.P. Hancke (of the British-based Smart Card Centre / Information Security Group at University of London), demonstrates how he implemented successful attacks on the three most popular High Frequency (HF) standards: ISO 14443A, ISO 14443B and ISO 15693.

What some may find particularly disturbing is that in each case Hancke not only describes the equipment needed to execute an attack, but also how an effective RFID receiver kit can be constructed for less than £50.

“Even though the self-build RF receiver did not achieve the same results as commercial equipment – it does illustrate that eavesdropping is not beyond the means of the average attacker.” says Hancke.

Read the full PDF report here

And then protect yourself against unauthorised ‘contactless’ eavesdropping here

Nevada Attorney General warns of 'contactless' crimewave

A leading smart card shielding company in the States recently announced news that the Nevada Attorney General’s Office had issued a series of daily consumer briefings on the growing concern surrounding ‘contactless’ crime.   If this is true then things are heating up!

Warnings appear to have been linked with America’s 13th Annual National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW). During NCPW, groups across the States share consumer advice, in the hope that individuals will find better ways to protect their privacy and avoid fraud.

A spokesperson from ID Stronghold said, “Thieves can steal this information by using a frequency reader. These readers are inexpensive and easy to obtain. The thief can simply walk next to you and acquire your credit card number and expiration date without any physical contact. While these cards are in your wallet or purse they can transmit your card or passport number and in some states, your digital drivers’ license information when placed near a reader. The information almost immediately appears on a computer screen without you ever knowing about it. Apparently U.S. passports are more difficult to read than cards with RFID chips because they require a password. However, hackers with enough knowledge can see everything on the passport’s front page.”

From the above evidence there seems to be growing concern across America, (not least in Nevada), about a potential RFID crimewave. Against such a backdrop the case for consumers to protect themselves from this type of identity theft is growing stronger by the day.  And whilst it is important to also mention that the makers of RFID enabled devices still maintain that their products are 100% safe from unauthorised access, should you feel the need to buy some RFID sheilding just in case then you can learn more here…

US Department of Defense orders RFID shields

US Department of Defense orders RFID shields

It can now be reasonably argued that November 2010 will mark a significant turning point in the debate surrounding RFID or ‘contactless’ credit, debit, passport and door-access security.  For on Wednesday 29 November, 2010  Secure ID News reported the following news,

“…2.5 million radio frequency shielding sleeves (were delivered) to the Department of Defense to protect the contactless Common Access Card (CAC) from data interception. The FIPS 201-approved, shielding sleeves are distributed via RAPIDS ID offices worldwide with the issuance of new CACs.”

Furthermore, the online journal then went on to state,

“…an option to purchase an additional 1,675,000 sleeves was exercised by the Defense Department for final delivery in January 2011. This order will bring the total number of our sleeves 4.2 million. In September, an order for 200,000 rigid, RF shielding, non-metallic badge holders (was also placed).”

Of course, whilst unauthorised data interception from RFID enabled device is not commonplace – this development would strongly suggest that the potential threat of ‘skimming’ is real and growing by the day.

Original source: http://www.secureidnews.com/2010/11/29/defense-department-order-rf-shields-from-national-laminating

David Beckham - victim of RFID hacking and car jacking!

Going, going, gone – RFID car-jacking!

It’s the stuff of movies. A criminal gang that sets out to steal hundreds of cars, each in under 60 seconds, using the latest in high-tech gadgets to facilitate their heist.   But for David Beckham, Hollywood fiction became a reality when in April 2006 criminals used a simple laptop and RFID scanner to crack the electronic door locks of his BMW X5. Once the locks were cracked they then fired up the ignition and drove away – gone in just 15 minutes!

So how was this possible? After all the RFID industry has gone to considerable lengths to reassure us that ‘contactless’ chips and ‘smart keys’ are 100% secure, and not vulnerable to ‘skimming’.

John Holl, a journalist with Forbes Autos throws some light on the matter saying,

“…Back in 2004, when keyless technology was still new and touted as unbreakable and secure, Dr. Aviel D. Rubin, a professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University, examined this possibility (with his students). Within three months they had successfully cracked the code embedded within the ignition keys of newer model cars, theoretically allowing them to steal the autos.”

“It was a trial-and-error process,”  Rubin said. “We wanted to see if it could be broken and found out that (surprisingly) it could!”

The technique requires a laptop, an RFID scanner and software capable of probing for encryption weaknesses. It only takes about 15 minutes for the software to explore millions of possible encryption answers, before finding the one that fits with the vehicle’s unique identity.  The thieves then submit an identical code to the vehicle, which allows them to ‘boost’ it.

15 minutes – it’s not long.  About the time it takes to park up, leave your vehicle and order at a restaurant, which seems to be what happened to the Beckhams.  And it just goes to show that no security system is 100% fool-proof, however peace of mind may soon arrive as British company RFID Protect hopes to manufacture RFID shielding sleeves that are specifically designed to protect a vehicle’s ‘smart key’ against unauthorised probing.

Original article at:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13507939/ns/business-autos/

NEWSFLASH: Update September 2012

This month sees AutoExpress reporting on a new twist to this story.  It transpires that BMW has at last accepted that there is an issue with its keyless entry systems on cars issued between 2007 and September 2011.  BBC’s Watchdog television programme highlighted a problem with certain models (specifically BMW X5 & X6) in June of this year, and since then a number of high profile cases have come to light.  One story in particular demonstrates the problem that BMW is now facing, because when London-based consultant Eric Gallina had his car stolen from outside his home he couldn’t understand how thieves had taken it.  Mr Gallina still had the two factory-issued master car keys in his possession, and there had been no evidence of vehicle break in (i.e. there was no broken window glass at the crime scene).

AutoExpress reported that Mr Gallina was told by police officers,

“…nine other BMWs with keyless entry had been stolen in the Notting Hill area within the past month and a half.”

Apologists for BMW have issued security guidance to owners of these models, although it is not clear whether an actual ‘fix’ for the problem is available at the time of writing.  According to AutoExpress BMW have issued the following advice,

“…[until the fix is available to all models], where ever possible park your car out of sight, in a locked garage, or under the cover of CCTV cameras.”

Easier said than done, and some will wonder whether this guidance from BMW has really been thought through, or goes far enough to address such a serious security flaw?

Original article at: http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/bmw/60264/bmw-owners-offered-fix-hi-tech-theft

'Chip and Pin' banking is flawed - pure gold!On Tuesday 28 December, 2010 the Independent Newspaper ran an eye-opening story concerning certain inherent weaknesses with UK ‘chip and pin’ banking.  Their news item by Richard Garner, Education Editor proved so sensational that shock waves are still being felt across the industry even today!

Far from offering customers added security, it now transpires that ‘chip and pin’ may have been launched despite serious flaws with this system of making electronic payments.  Whilst this development does not concern RFID / ‘contactless’ technology as such, nonetheless  some readers may choose to draw parallels with the banking sectors’ insistence (at the time) that their new technology was 100% foolproof.

Here’s what happened – as far as we’re aware…

In short, the UK Cards Association (representing all major credit, debit and charge card issuers in Britain) discovered that a Cambridge University PhD student named Omar Choudary had published a remarkable thesis online.  His student text identified vulnerabilities with the UK ‘chip-and-pin’ system, weaknesses that can be easily exploited by fraudsters.

Needless to say, the UK Cards Association approached Cambridge University asking it to remove hyper-links to Choudary’s thesis and take action to remove this work from the public domain.  However, the University delivered a swift rebuttal; accusing the banksters representative body of “bullying” and “censorship”.

The UK Cards Association Chair, Melanie Johnson insisted that Choudary’s  PhD thesis , “…over steps the boundaries of what constitutes reasonable disclosure by giving too much detail on how the chip-and-pin system could be breached.”

Although a University spokesperson responded saying, “…you seem to think that we might censor a student’s thesis – which is lawful and already in the public domain – simply because a powerful interest group finds it inconvenient”.

The University denies that the student thesis encourages fraud by,  “…giving details of a blueprint for a device which is alleged to exploit a loophole in the security of chip-and-pin technology.”

The rebuttal concluded with the following statement,  “…you complain that the work may undermine public confidence in the payments system.  What will support confidence in the payments system is evidence that the banks are frank and honest in admitting weaknesses when they are exposed and diligent in affecting the necessary remedies.”

So to conclude, it could be reasonably argued that the banking community will spin this story to their advantage; perhaps even suggesting that in switching from ‘chip and pin’ to  ‘contactless’ payments systems this particular security problem will be overcome.   Overcome that is until news reaches UK shores of how RFID skimming is now a major issue for American credit card users.

Learn how to prevent credit card, e-passport and access pass ”skimming’ at:

http:www.rfidprotect.co.uk

Richard Garners’ full expose can be found at:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/

And the full response from Cambridge University can be read here:

http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/Papers/

On Tuesday 28 December, 2010 the Independent Newspaper ran an eye-opening story concerning certain inherent weaknesses with ‘chip and pin’ banking.

This news item by Richard Garner, Education Editor proved so sensational that shock waves are still being felt across the industry even today. Far from offering customers added security, it now transpires that ‘chip and pin’ may have been launched despite serious flaws with this system of making electronic payments. Whilst this development does not concern RFID / ‘contactless’ technology some readers may chose to draw parallels with the banking sectors insistence that their new technology is 100% foolproof – until there’s a problem, and then the default reaction is to try and silence any dissenting voices.

Here’s what happened – as far as we’re aware.

In short, the UK Cards Association(representing all major credit, debit and charge card issuers in Britain) discovered that Cambridge University PHD student Omar Choudary had published a remarkable thesis online. His student text identifies vulnerabilities with the ‘chip-and-pin’ system that can be easily exploited by fraudsters.

Needless to say, the UK Cards Association approached Cambridge university asking it to remove hyper-links to Choudary’s thesis. However, the University delivered a swift rebuttal; accusing the ‘banksters’ representative of bullying and censorship.

The UK Cards Association Chair, Melanie Johnson insisted that Choudary’s PHD thesis , “..oversteps the boundaries of what constitutes reasonable disclosure by giving too much detail on how the chip-and-pin system could be breached.”

Although a University spokesperson responded saying, “…you seem to think that we might censor a student’s thesis – which is lawful and already in the public domain – simply because a powerful interest group finds it inconvenient,”

The University denies that the student thesis encourages fraud by, “…giving details of a blueprint for a device which is alleged to exploit a loophole in the security of chip-and-pin technology.”

The rebuttal concluded with the following statement, “You complain that the work may undermine public confidence in the payments system. What will support confidence in the payments system is evidence that the banks are frank and honest in admitting weaknesses when they are exposed, and diligent in affecting the necessary remedies.”

Richard Garner’s full expose can be found at:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/banks-attempt-to-suppress-maths-students-expos233-of-chip-and-pin-2170396.html

Here in the UK, the bio-metric passport project is now in its fourth year.  By all accounts the roll-out has proved successful, although there is a growing body of evidence that suggests the system is not entirely fool-proof; leaving a small window of opportunity for unscrupulous individuals to ‘skim’ the data contained therein.  It’s been argued that this can be done from distances up to a metre away, and what’s more – you wouldn’t feel a thing!

As someone who’s not keen to have their privacy compromised – even if this is just a ‘long shot’ – I’ve decided to put together a DIY guide to keeping your RFID enabled passport secure from skimmers. So, we’re going to use the ‘Faraday Cage’ approach of using aluminium foil to create a secure environment for our passport – rendering it inactive, whilst inside the foil.  Yes, I realise that this smacks of ‘tin hat paranoia’ – but there’s compelling evidence to suggest it works – as the signal from our passive RFID chip is effectively blocked from the reader; or ‘hacker’ as the case may be.

You will need:

2 x A3 paper
A4 size strips of aluminium foil
C5 sized envelope/s
3M spray mount
1 x scalpel
1 x newspaper
1 x ruler
1 x strong adhesive (PVA / wood glue)
1 x kettle (for streaming the C5 envelope open)

Instructions:

  • Take your kettle, fill it with about one cup of water, and heat until boiling
  • Taking great care with this next step – steam the folded seams of your C5 envelop, until the original glue relaxes and you can peal the flaps apart
  • Once all flaps are released – unfold your envelop and allow to dry
  • Once dry, place your unfolded envelop between two sheets of A3 paper (creating a sandwich) and iron the top sheet of A3, thus in doing so the C5 envelop will be flattened.
  • Remove the 2 sheets of A3 paper, take the (now flattened) envelop and place it over a sheet of aluminium foil and ensure that there’s sufficient foil to cover your envelop.  Cut to size – allowing for at least 1 cm overlap on all edges.
  • Place the aluminium foil onto a sheet of old newspaper – spray well with 3M spray mount
  • Place inside face of envelop onto the sticky side of the foil – you’re attempting to glue the foil to the inside of your envelop.
  • Place a sheet of A3 paper over the top, then rest a heavy book on top – allowing up to 24 hrs for the glue to adhere
  • Once fully dried – and using a ruler – trim all edges with a scalpel, to the original dimensions of your C5 envelop.  TAKE CARE OF FINGERS!!!
  • Finally, crease any folds again to original C5 envelop configurations.
  • Use the strong adhesive to join the folded seams together.

You should now have a C5 envelope with a foil lining inside. All you need do now is insert your RFID enabled passport and close the flap.  You can use a paper clip to keep the flap closed.

All done!

Although with hindsight, you could well be better off simply buying an RFID protected passport sleeve (for around £2.99) from one of the suppliers listed elsewhere on this site. (Click here to buy from UK-supplier RFID Protect.)

And unless you already have most of the items detailed above then it’s probably also a cheaper option – but of course less fun!

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?