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Bad news for America travelers
Old 02-05-2009, 07:10 PM   #1
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Bad news for America travelers

Hackers Clone E-Passports

I tend to be a pessimist/realist about technology issues, especially when implemented by the gov't. There was never any question that the tech would be obsolete before they even started using it. However, I never even thought about the bad guys using the RFID signature to allow IEDs to detect when an American is walking by in order to target us.
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Old 02-05-2009, 09:55 PM   #2
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They really need to turn to the ISO 14443 standard so your passport can only be read from 4 - 6 inches so that you're not a walking IED detonator.

According to the article, the data on the RFID e-passport are not encrypted, so that German hacker didn't do anything amazing.
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Old 02-06-2009, 02:09 AM   #3
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I may be paranoid, but it doesn't seem excessive to carry anything containing an RFID chip in a foil bag.
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Old 02-06-2009, 08:11 AM   #4
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Well... RFIDs are not indestructible. If you're really worried, do a decent bending/folding/crumpling exercise on your passport. The passport will remain valid even with a no longer functioning RFID.
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Old 02-06-2009, 09:16 AM   #5
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I may be paranoid, but it doesn't seem excessive to carry anything containing an RFID chip in a foil bag.
Like under my hat?
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Old 02-06-2009, 10:31 AM   #6
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Like under my hat?
Perfect.
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Old 02-06-2009, 03:19 PM   #7
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I wonder how much the military version of "stick a bunch of passports on the end of a few broomsticks ducktaped together and attach that to the front of your vehicle" would cost to implement in the field as a counter-IED measure? Anyone have DARPA's phone number handy? I'm guessing a million or two per implementation at least.
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Old 02-06-2009, 03:30 PM   #8
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They really need to turn to the ISO 14443 standard so your passport can only be read from 4 - 6 inches so that you're not a walking IED detonator.

According to the article, the data on the RFID e-passport are not encrypted, so that German hacker didn't do anything amazing.
When we renewed our British passports a year ago we also bought a couple of protective sleeves to carry them in. This blocks the RFID from the passport chip. Cheap enough solution as it was already well known that forgers were able to easily read the id's from passers by and reproduce them to add to forged passports.

This is the first I have heard of IED's being triggered by them and it seems a bit far fetched as terrorists usually go for much softer targets.
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Old 02-06-2009, 04:46 PM   #9
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The IED thing was just a proof of concept test, especially since they haven't even started distributing the RFID passports yet. And the passport covers are supposed to have metal threads woven in to protect against them being read, but even open half an inch (ie. loose in your backpack) was enough for him to read. Another point was using other RFID tags in the passport to fool a computerized check, although not a visual one. I think his main point is why spend these huge amounts of money on tech that isn't going to accomplish it's goal? But this is the gov't we're dealing with. IMHO the RFIDs make a lot more sense than taking off my shoes in the airport.
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Old 02-06-2009, 05:54 PM   #10
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Another point was using other RFID tags in the passport to fool a computerized check, although not a visual one. I think his main point is why spend these huge amounts of money on tech that isn't going to accomplish it's goal? But this is the gov't we're dealing with. IMHO the RFIDs make a lot more sense than taking off my shoes in the airport.
I couldn't agree more. Our new British passports cost a lot more to pay for the new technology plus another $20 for the protective cover to stop criminals reading the unencrypted signal.

We renewed our US passports a few months ago so at least we avoid the RFID tags for a few more years.
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Old 02-07-2009, 06:46 AM   #11
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IMHO the RFIDs make a lot more sense than taking off my shoes in the airport.
This really annoys me. Some version of psuedo security. I presume they are checking everyone's shoes due to the goofball that tried to have a bomb in his shoes and (unsuccessfully) detonate it.

So if this makes sense, if some bomber sews a bomb into his pants, will they make everyone drop their drawers?
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Old 02-07-2009, 08:04 AM   #12
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The IED thing was just a proof of concept test, especially since they haven't even started distributing the RFID passports yet...
I received a new US passport last summer and it does have the RFID logo on the cover.
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Old 02-07-2009, 10:34 AM   #13
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I received a new US passport last summer and it does have the RFID logo on the cover.
I guess I was wrong. Unless, of course, they just put the logo on the cover. Sort of like having the signs for an alarm system, but no system.

If you do have the RFID, just make sure to keep the cover closed tight while vacationing in the Al-Anbar province.
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Old 02-07-2009, 10:53 AM   #14
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I received a new US passport last summer and it does have the RFID logo on the cover.
DW and I got ours in October and December and no RFID - I wonder if it depends on which office issues the Passport
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Old 02-07-2009, 11:04 AM   #15
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DW and I got ours in October and December and no RFID - I wonder if it depends on which office issues the Passport
I guess I got cheated again. Bummer.
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Old 02-07-2009, 12:54 PM   #16
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This is the first I have heard of IED's being triggered by them and it seems a bit far fetched as terrorists usually go for much softer targets.
I may have buns of steel, but the general area of my back pocket is still a comparatively soft target.

I tend to view RFID, etc., as theater rather than security. I'd rather have someone actually look at faces and photos, etc., than at a computer screen.
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Old 02-07-2009, 01:57 PM   #17
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The IED thing was just a proof of concept test, especially since they haven't even started distributing the RFID passports yet. And the passport covers are supposed to have metal threads woven in to protect against them being read, but even open half an inch (ie. loose in your backpack) was enough for him to read. Another point was using other RFID tags in the passport to fool a computerized check, although not a visual one. I think his main point is why spend these huge amounts of money on tech that isn't going to accomplish it's goal? But this is the gov't we're dealing with. IMHO the RFIDs make a lot more sense than taking off my shoes in the airport.
Hey, us non-retired techies still need the teats of the government! My ideas are all in the NFC/e-wallet/e-ID fields. Then when the new tech bombs, I'll sell the fixes as well.
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Old 02-09-2009, 01:13 PM   #18
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Hey, us non-retired techies still need the teats of the government! My ideas are all in the NFC/e-wallet/e-ID fields. Then when the new tech bombs, I'll sell the fixes as well.
Nice pun!
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Old 02-26-2009, 08:08 PM   #19
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phish and chips ?
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Old 02-26-2009, 10:13 PM   #20
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phish and chips ?
Phish and String Cheese
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