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.

Perimeter

Black Hat Cancels RFID Demo

Badge, smartcard patent holder threatens lawsuit over cloning presentation

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Black Hat DC -- A presentation that would have exposed potential vulnerabilities in RFID security technology has been pulled from tomorrow's Black Hat conference agenda following threats of a patent lawsuit by the technology's manufacturer.

HID Global Corp., which makes smart cards and proximity badges based on RFID, alleges that the presentation -- which was scheduled to include a demonstration of how to clone an RFID chip -- infringes on its manufacturing patents.

The presentation, which was to be delivered by security research firm IOActive, promised to poke holes in RFID technology by showing how easy it is to duplicate and penetrate.

"Assuming no initial knowledge of electronics, I'll explain everything you need to know in order to build a working cloner, understand how it works, and see exactly why RFID is so insecure and untrustworthy," said Chris Paget, director of research and development at IOActive, in his conference abstract.

Conference organizers and representatives expressed frustration over the squelching of the presentation, which would have exposed flaws in RFID technologies that are already being used in passports, and may soon become standard issue in driver's licenses and other forms of identification.

Nicole Ozer, technology and civil liberties policy director at the ACLU, noted that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is set to introduce its Real ID technology, a federally-approved travel identification card, later this week. As part of the program, the DHS is evaluating RFID technology that may be vulnerable to the flaws outlined in the IOActive presentation.

"This is an important time for this sort of information to be shared right now, when federal and state governments and other organizations are considering using RFID," Ozer said. "This is not the time for the first amendment to be trampled by intellectual property concerns."

A reporter asked Joshua Pennell, president and CEO of IOActive, whether the company could share its findings with the Department of Homeland Security in a private setting. "Absolutely not," he said. IOActive is a small company that doesn't have the legal or financial resources to challenge HID, he said.

HID has not made a public statement about the presentation, and its lawyers have not given IOActive any idea as to when -- if ever -- it will allow the researcher to release its findings, according to Black Hat officials.

The vulnerabilities of RFID technology are not a secret. There have been a number of papers and presentations published over the past two years, including one at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas last summer, in which a researcher demonstrated a cloned e-passport. The ACLU has been arguing for years that RFID technology might lead to a loss of personal privacy, especially if new laws for authentication and encryption of the RFID data are not passed.

IOActive's Paget says the flaws in RFID technology could be fixed. "It's at least plausible that the tags could be revised," he says. For now, however, Paget's cloner has been placed in trust until the civil litigation can be settled.

The last-minute squelch of the presentation is similar to the one that occurred two years ago, when Cisco threatened researcher Mike Lynn following his discovery of security flaws in its router technology.

"This is not quite a Mike Lynn scenario, but it's similar, with a cease and desist order coming in at the last moment," said Jeff Moss, founder of the Black Hat conference. "I don't like it when really big companies come in and throw their weight around like this. It pisses me off."

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
US Mayors Commit to Just Saying No to Ransomware
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  7/16/2019
A Lawyer's Guide to Cyber Insurance: 4 Basic Tips
Beth Burgin Waller, Chair, Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Practice , Woods Rogers PLC,  7/12/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-10100
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-18
Dolibarr 7.0.0 is affected by: Cross Site Request Forgery (CSRF). The impact is: allow malitious html to change user password, disable users and disable password encryptation. The component is: Function User password change, user disable and password encryptation. The attack vector is: admin access ...
CVE-2019-10100
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-18
domainmod v4.10.0 is affected by: Cross Site Request Forgery (CSRF). The impact is: There is a CSRF vulnerability that can change admin password. The component is: http://127.0.0.1/settings/password/ http://127.0.0.1/admin/users/add.php http://127.0.0.1/admin/users/edit.php?uid=2. The attack vector ...
CVE-2019-10100
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-18
domainmod(https://domainmod.org/) domainmod v4.10.0 is affected by: Cross Site Request Forgery (CSRF). The impact is: There is a CSRF vulnerability that can add the administrator account. The component is: http://127.0.0.1/admin/users/add.php. The attack vector is: After the administrator logged in,...
CVE-2019-10100
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-18
domainmod(https://domainmod.org/) domainmod v4.10.0 is affected by: Cross Site Request Forgery (CSRF). The impact is: There is a CSRF vulnerability that can change the read-only user to admin. The component is: http://127.0.0.1/admin/users/edit.php?uid=2. The attack vector is: After the administrato...
CVE-2016-10762
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-18
The CampTix Event Ticketing plugin before 1.5 for WordPress allows CSV injection when the export tool is used.