Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


12:16 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme

Students Successfully Hack RFID Crypto

RFID-chips -- commonly used for wireless payments, access key cards, and even to open car doors -- have been shown relatively easy to hack.

RFID-chips -- commonly used for wireless payments, access key cards, and even to open car doors -- have been shown relatively easy to hack.That's the news coming from the University of Virginia after a grad student there, and two other researchers, cracked the code used to encrypt RFID chips. According to the university, the research shows that with nothing more than technical skill, a PC, and $1,000 on hand for easily found equipment is all that's needed to clone your own subway pass -- or maybe wave a proximity card to get into some physically secured area, like the data center.

Karsten Nohl, 26, the lead researcher, and the rest of the team haven't released the details of how they broke the crypto. While that may make it harder for criminals to replicate what these researchers found, it makes to tough to evaluate the magnitude of their claim.

The chip the students say they've cracked is the MiFare Classic, NXP Semiconductors, a spin-off of electronics behemoth Philips. This chip is popular in transit and security systems. I'm not sure how many of these chips have sold since the mid-1990s when they first hit the market but it's been millions and millions. Maybe even, as scientist-philosopher Carl Sagan might have said: billions and billions of tiny RFID chips floating along with the ebb and flow of civilization and humans purchase stuff and travel throughout the planet.

I wish I knew more about how they cracked the crypto. If their claims are accurate, it means thieves can clone many types of contactless access and payment cards.

What's most concerning is RFID technology is planned to hold information on not only passports, but also medical implants.

While this is no reason to panic, it shows that two forms of authentication is always a good idea, such as using the proximity card, plus a pin or biometric -- or requiring that a car key be inserted into the ignition (after using a wireless starter) to put the car in drive.

There's more information on this story available here.


Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 8/3/2020
'BootHole' Vulnerability Exposes Secure Boot Devices to Attack
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/29/2020
Average Cost of a Data Breach: $3.86 Million
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  7/29/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-05
Affected versions of Atlassian Fisheye allow remote attackers to view the HTTP password of a repository via an Information Disclosure vulnerability in the logging feature. The affected versions are before version 4.8.3.
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-04
In solidus before versions 2.8.6, 2.9.6, and 2.10.2, there is an bility to change order address without triggering address validations. This vulnerability allows a malicious customer to craft request data with parameters that allow changing the address of the current order without changing the shipm...
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-04
Extreme Analytics in Extreme Management Center before allows unauthenticated reflected XSS via a parameter in a GET request, aka CFD-4887.
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-04
save-server (npm package) before version 1.05 is affected by a CSRF vulnerability, as there is no CSRF mitigation (Tokens etc.). The fix introduced in version version 1.05 unintentionally breaks uploading so version v1.0.7 is the fixed version. This is patched by implementing Double submit. The CSRF...
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-04
An exploitable arbitrary file delete vulnerability exists in SoftPerfect RAM Disk 4.1 spvve.sys driver. A specially crafted I/O request packet (IRP) can allow an unprivileged user to delete any file on the filesystem. An attacker can send a malicious IRP to trigger this vulnerability.