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Black Hat Researcher Hacks Credit Cards

Newly released tool grabs credit card account ID data off magnetic strips, RFID chips

WASHINGTON -- BLACK HAT DC 2008 -- Ever wonder what’s on that magnetic strip on your credit card? Researcher Adam Laurie did, and here today at Black Hat DC he demonstrated and released a tool he developed for hacking credit-card mag strips as well as RFID chips implanted in some cards.

Laurie, best known for his Rfidiot set of tools for hacking all things RFID (building passes, animal ID tags, passports, etc.), showed how his new Chapy tool could find account identification data stored on a credit card. Chapy is a Python-based script Laurie wrote that works with a card reader to scan and clone the data stored on the credit card.

“I had been wondering what was on my credit card,” says Laurie, whose tool for now only works with Personal Computer/Smart Card (PCSC)-based technology.

Chapy finds the account identification information, including the primary account number, expiration date, and the card owner’s name, for instance, so an attacker could easily clone the credit card, Laurie notes.

The tool also can hack cards with RFID tags, such as American Express cards, which he demonstrated here. “I didn’t need any authentication or PIN number,” he says.

Laurie says American Express told him the account number he gets with the hack isn’t the primary one, however, nor does the card store the name of the cardholder. But in his live demo, Chapy did display the account holder’s name. “And I’ve been told you can use this account number for online transactions,” he notes.

Chapy is still “very much a work-in-progress,” he says, and will be available on the Rfidiots site today.

In another demo during his presentation here, Laurie hammed it up a bit by cloning a "surgically-implanted" RFID tag (actually an RFID tag embedded in his watch) with an animal ID tag, using his existing Rfidiot tools.

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