Vulnerabilities / Threats

8/3/2010
04:42 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Researcher Reads RFID Tag From Hundreds Of Feet Away

Demonstration raises privacy and security concerns with RFID EPC Class 1 Generation 2 used in some passport cards, inventory tags, and driver's licenses

A hardware hacker has likely broken the world's record for reading an RFID tag from the farthest distance -- 217 feet.

Click here for more of Dark Reading's Black Hat articles.

Security researcher Chris Paget demonstrated his homegrown RFID-reading equipment at both Black Hat USA and Defcon 18, last week in Las Vegas, to illustrate the lack of security in the Electronic Product Code (EPC) Class 1 Generation 2 RFID technology used in U.S. passport cards (not books), enhanced driver's licenses, and in clothing and other items at Walmart for inventory purposes, for instance.

Paget -- who last week at Defcon 18 also successfully faked several attendees' cell phones into connecting to his phony GSM base station during a live demonstration to illustrate security issues with GSM technology -- was able to find the RFID card from a balcony 30 stories up at the Riviera Hotel in a demo for reporters during Defcon. But his hardware blew after he attempted to boost the signal, so he was unable to show the full tag-reading step as a Defcon volunteer held up the tag from the road below.

"I've read it from 217 feet," Paget said, but his homemade RFID-reading system -- which included two large antennas, ham radio equipment, software radio peripheral, and a slimmed down Linux-based laptop -- is capable of reading the EPC Class 1 Gen2 RFID cards at much greater distances.

Paget plans to get the Guinness Book of World Records to confirm his feat, which beats records of 69 feet set by Flexilis at Defcon 13 and 65 meters by ThingMagic at another venue.

The RFID technology here isn't encrypted, he notes, nor does it contain any access control features. "I could tell what color underwear you were wearing" if you hadn't taken the tag off from Walmart, he says.

Paget says his research was all about proving that these RFID tags could be read from afar and how it poses a serious privacy risk for users. "It's inappropriate to put this technology in ID cards,"' he said. His research shows how people's information could be surreptitiously read from afar while they carry their passport cards, for example.

Among the information that could be read from the tags, he said, is the person's name and state of residence via a unique identification number used in the tags. The tag's prefix identifies the user by his home state, he said, information that could be used to scam tourists. And tag-reading could be used by bad guys for reconnaissance prior to robberies or other crimes in a neighborhood.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
It Takes an Average of 3 to 6 Months to Fill a Cybersecurity Job
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  3/12/2019
Cybercriminals Think Small to Earn Big
Dark Reading Staff 3/12/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: LOL  Hope this one wins
Current Issue
5 Emerging Cyber Threats to Watch for in 2019
Online attackers are constantly developing new, innovative ways to break into the enterprise. This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at five emerging attack trends and exploits your security team should look out for, along with helpful recommendations on how you can prevent your organization from falling victim.
Flash Poll
The State of Cyber Security Incident Response
The State of Cyber Security Incident Response
Organizations are responding to new threats with new processes for detecting and mitigating them. Here's a look at how the discipline of incident response is evolving.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-6149
PUBLISHED: 2019-03-18
An unquoted search path vulnerability was identified in Lenovo Dynamic Power Reduction Utility prior to version 2.2.2.0 that could allow a malicious user with local access to execute code with administrative privileges.
CVE-2018-15509
PUBLISHED: 2019-03-18
Five9 Agent Desktop Plus 10.0.70 has Incorrect Access Control (issue 2 of 2).
CVE-2018-20806
PUBLISHED: 2019-03-17
Phamm (aka PHP LDAP Virtual Hosting Manager) 0.6.8 allows XSS via the login page (the /public/main.php action parameter).
CVE-2019-5616
PUBLISHED: 2019-03-15
CircuitWerkes Sicon-8, a hardware device used for managing electrical devices, ships with a web-based front-end controller and implements an authentication mechanism in JavaScript that is run in the context of a user's web browser.
CVE-2018-17882
PUBLISHED: 2019-03-15
An Integer overflow vulnerability exists in the batchTransfer function of a smart contract implementation for CryptoBotsBattle (CBTB), an Ethereum token. This vulnerability could be used by an attacker to create an arbitrary amount of tokens for any user.