Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy Security Your Rights Online

E-Passport Cloned In Five Minutes 259

Posted by kdawson
from the if-more-proof-were-needed dept.
Last month a panel of EU experts warned that the e-Passport's security is "poorly conceived", and in fact a week later a British newspaper demonstrated a crack. Now another researcher has shown how to clone a European e-Passport in under 5 minutes. A UK Home Office spokesman dismissed it all, saying "It is hard to see why anyone would want to access the information on the chip."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

E-Passport Cloned In Five Minutes

Comments Filter:
  • Well then, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Sunday December 17, 2006 @09:52PM (#17281836) Homepage Journal

    "It is hard to see why anyone would want to access the information on the chip."
    I guess that's what they call a failure of imagination.

  • by Salvance (1014001) * on Sunday December 17, 2006 @09:53PM (#17281838) Homepage Journal
    "It is hard to see why anyone would want to access the information on the chip." Hmmm... it's also hard to see why anyone would want my credit card information, SSN, address, etc. I'm sure nobody really wants to know any personal information about me at all, and I'm sure nobody would ever want to forge any of my identifying documentation.

    Something is just wrong with the UK's Home Office. Today I read that they will now classify panty theifs as sex offenders [sundaymirror.co.uk], receiving the same long-term classification on the sex offenders' registry as child abusers, rapists, and child pornographers.
  • Re:Well then, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by l2718 (514756) on Sunday December 17, 2006 @10:04PM (#17281904)
    Well, it's true that if you already possess a passport and want to copy it, it's essentially the same problem with and without an RFID. It's also true that the RFID chip does stop the basic hack of replacing the photo in the passport (since the data on the chip is persumably read-only, and the chip can't be replaced without mutilating the passport). I think what the esteemed spokesman missed is the privacy implications (I can now read your passport without your knowledge). In particular, you can clone these passports without actually holding the original. In the past to clone a passport you needed the co-operation of its owner (if you steal a passport it's known to be stolen). Now you can make your own sure-to-be valid passport by just stepping into the airport and choosing an appropriate victim (someone who looks like you, perhaps?).
  • by zuki (845560) on Sunday December 17, 2006 @10:04PM (#17281906) Journal
    As it may be, the people in charge of budgetary approval for the programs which put all of these RFID solutions
    into place will steadfastly deny that anything is wrong until they are forced to do so, as agreeing that those are
    potentially high security risks would otherwise equate it with having to backtrack on what they previously approved,
    even though they were amply forewarned by many in the security-related field.

    It's really about not losing face at any cost, lest people start questioning other methods they employ.

    Human nature, really. Look no further than the voting machines controversy for parallels here in the US.

    Z.
  • huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jshackney (99735) on Sunday December 17, 2006 @10:15PM (#17281974) Homepage
    It is hard to see why anyone would want to access the information on the chip.

    If no one would want to access that information, then why is it on the chip? Why even bother with the chip? Why even bother with the information?
  • by Dunbal (464142) on Sunday December 17, 2006 @10:25PM (#17282048)
    It's a scary world when those who are old and have little clue about technology (the politicians) are told they need a high tech solution to a security issue.

          Careful. The hippies used to complain about how all the old farts in power didn't have a clue back then. Now they're running things, and look where we are. I shudder to think about what the world will be like when it's YOUR turn...
  • by goldcd (587052) on Sunday December 17, 2006 @10:30PM (#17282104) Homepage
    of copies of the id pages of passports - much the same as you'd have if you'd taken a summer job working for Hertz.
  • by arete (170676) <areteslashdot2@NoSPAm.xig.net> on Sunday December 17, 2006 @10:32PM (#17282122) Homepage
    RFID IDs are TERRIBLE for personal security, because it adds RANGE to detection and forgery. Parent post has ABSOLUTELY missed the point.

    No one is claiming that magnetic stripes and/or bar codes are bad for security. In both cases they make it very marginally harder to copy and virtually eliminate data-entry errors. RFID has a BIG problem beyond that: It can be read without the knowledge of the holder.

    No one can read the inside of my paper passport without me giving it to them - nor my magstripe nor bar code. I have complete control over who sees it. Sure, I might be conned into showing someone, but they have to con me. RFID means that:

    1. They can copy my information without me ever showing it to them.
    2. They can READ my information without me ever showing them, allowing them to identify me from a distance.
    3. Even with a perfectly random RFID system, they can identify your nationality from afar, which obviously may make you a target in some circumstances.

    To be SAFE, an RFID system must have a) zero emissions in the closed state (eg a tested foil cover) AND b) No non-random information broadcast from the chip. (that is, a random passportID that is broadcast that has NO other information until you look it up in the appropriate database.)

    "b" is necessary because "a" alone still allows someone nearby you to snoop whenever you have to show your passport somewhere.

  • Re:Well then, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zemran (3101) on Sunday December 17, 2006 @10:47PM (#17282202) Homepage Journal
    "It is hard to see why anyone would want to access the information on the chip."

    Just like it is hard to see why anyone would want to blow up an aircraft? I think that people are still thinking within the sandbox and not realising that the real risk is what we have not yet thought of. There will be lots of reasons to want to access the information and to change it or learn to create false IDs that Joe Average security assumes to be valid because it is state of the art.
  • by IWannaBeAnAC (653701) on Sunday December 17, 2006 @10:49PM (#17282218)

    Well, the key needs to be printed somewhere on the passport.

    The big, huge security hole though, is that the key is made up of the passport number, the date of birth of the holder, and the expiry date, none of which are hard to come by. For example, the postman delivering your new passport can probably find your date of birth (when did you late get a birthday card?), and can make a pretty good guess as to when it expires (10 years plus or minus a few days), so if he can guess what the passport number is, then he can read and clone your passport without even opening the envelope!

    I don't know what idiot dreamed up using that particular data as the 'secret' key, they deserve to be shot. Why not make the key some random digit string, printed inside the passport in machine-readable text? Then it would at least be impossible to read the passport without opening it.

  • why indeed? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dredson (620914) on Sunday December 17, 2006 @10:50PM (#17282220)

    "It is hard to see why anyone would want to access the information on the chip."
    If that's true, then why use a chip at all?
  • by sedmonds (94908) on Sunday December 17, 2006 @10:52PM (#17282226) Homepage
    You want to be able to trust your policemen to be able to abide by the law, it's paramount.


    I don't know where you live, but I trust the police here about as far as I can throw them. I'll accept that most police are probably perfectly trustworthy as individuals, but it doesn't take many bad seeds to make the whole group untrustworthy. You just don't know if you're getting one of the 90 good ones, or one of the 10 lemons.

    Based on the "thin blue line" good 'ole boys club that protects police from being held accountable for anything from traffic violations to premeditated murder, and the number of flagrant abuses of power by police that appear in reputable news sources, I don't trust policemen. Even if 90% of them are trustworthy as individuals, when they protect criminals in uniform they are no longer trustworthy as a group.
  • RFID in general could have even worse implications. Just picture the following:

    - That person is carrying a passport
    - Someone with a passport is probably a tourist
    - A tourist would normally need to carry largish amounts of cash
    - So lets mug them or double our prices.

    If you're a tourist in another country, the LAST thing you would normally want to do is advertise that fact.

  • Re:Well then, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nonlnear (893672) on Sunday December 17, 2006 @11:09PM (#17282328)
    UYFB (Use Your F***ing Brain): Do you want all the info on your passport's personal details page readable by absolutely everyone you walk by?

    Passport cloning isn't even the primary security concern here. Cloning a passport has become no harder or easier thanks to RFID. But Identity theft will become much much easier.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 17, 2006 @11:16PM (#17282376)
    The answer isn't to come up with some elaborate system like you propose. That's the worst thing to do. The real solution is to ditch these stupid passport schemes.

    Passports and other pieces of identification never bring a nation security or safety. The best way to remain safe is to avoid alienating those who could bring you harm. And yes, that means staying out of the affairs of regions on the other side of the world.

  • by Todd Knarr (15451) * on Sunday December 17, 2006 @11:22PM (#17282402) Homepage

    The proper response to that spokesman is "Well then, you won't mind lending us your passport for a minute, so we can copy it and put copies on sale in <district with notorious reputation>, will you?".

    Some politicians simply need the problem made their personal problem before they'll see it.

  • by timmarhy (659436) on Sunday December 17, 2006 @11:36PM (#17282472)
    what a fucking crock of shit. someone stealing a womens underwear off the line is a LONG jump to being a pedo. what possible connection can there be between a weirdo taking an adult womens underwear and them being sexually attracted to children? thats right there isn't. it's same bogus thinking that links homosexuals to pedo. and that crap has been debunked for decades. oh and as for your "it's about protection" argument, yeah they will take your liberty all the while softly whisphering in your ear "it's for your protection"
  • by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) on Sunday December 17, 2006 @11:37PM (#17282476) Homepage
    Simple: Now you can be blamed for crimes committed with a clone of your passport, because obviously such passports are impossible to clone.
  • by LordLucless (582312) on Sunday December 17, 2006 @11:57PM (#17282592)
    Awesome. Let's book kids who sneak some booze when they're underage with the same charge as heroin dealers. They're probably just building up the courage to do something more serious. Of course, there's always the whacky notion that the punishment should fit the crime that was actually committed rather than what we think they might do in the future.
  • by oohshiny (998054) on Monday December 18, 2006 @12:03AM (#17282624)
    That's because stealing panties is a classic sign of a real sex offender getting up the courage to do something more serious.

    Says who? You? Heck, why don't we start arresting people for thought crimes, then?

    In a nation of laws, people get punished for what they actually do, not for some prediction of what they might or might not do in the future. Apparently, you prefer to live in a totalitarian nation, in which the state can charge anybody with absolutely anything if they just so please.
  • by Fastolfe (1470) on Monday December 18, 2006 @12:23AM (#17282752)

    Why not make the key some random digit string, printed inside the passport in machine-readable text? Then it would at least be impossible to read the passport without opening it.

    Off the top of my head (might be missing something obvious), by forcing the key to be made up of useful data, it becomes impossible to divorce the key from the holder's identifying information, as printed on the passport. By requiring the operator to enter the user's data as part of the key to decode the electronic data, it sort of requires that the printed data match the electronic data. Without this check, the operator would have to visually compare the two, which might make it slightly easier to attempt low-tech forgeries where the information doesn't actually match.

    Of course, even if that were one of their reasons behind the design, that wouldn't excuse them from not mixing the passport holder's data with a random number in the manner you suggest.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 18, 2006 @12:25AM (#17282760)
    It is up to the person who makes the positive claim to provide evidence for his claim. The positive claim here is that those who engage in theft of undergarments are also likely pedophiles. The negative claim here is that an overlap between these two seperate populations has not been shown.

    In closing, take your smug 'you don't know, you're just guessing' and learn what the burden of proof fallacy is and why it is a fallacy [google.com].
  • by RexRhino (769423) on Monday December 18, 2006 @12:38AM (#17282840)
    This is absolute bullshit. There has been absolutly no research to determine if an 18 year old who has sex with a 17 year old classmate, or a guy streaking as part of a college fraternity prank, or a guy who has consentual sex with other adult men in a public-park lavatory, or the couple who park up on "lovers lane" to have sex, or a married couple who has oral sex in Arkansas, or the 90% of "sex offenders" who never did anything that wouldn't be legal or a misdemeanor if they where only done in San Fransico or Amsterdam, are likely to do anything!

    Only a tiny fraction of the people who are being branded second class citizens for life, and being subjected to a lifetime of harrasment and violence at the hands of vigilantes, did anything remotely like rape or molestation. Most commited only voluntary, consentual sex acts with people their own age.

    Sex offender lists, and their sister paranoia law enforcement, Do Not Fly list, are part of our societies current irrational, paranoid, fear of boogie men - being afraid of sex offenders or terrorists depending on where you live and your political beliefs. Personally, I am far more disturbed by the people who believe their friends or neighbors are all devious sexual preditors lurking to rape their kids - If anything I would be far more worried about the guy who is constantly paranoid of sex offenders (ala Mark Foley), than I would the college football players who get arrested doing a panty raid on the girls sorority. Or I would be far more frightened of the people who think everyone named "Mohammed" may be a terrorist, than I would be of someone named "Mohammed" sitting next to me on a plane.

    Maybe read Author Miller's "The Crucible" ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crucible [wikipedia.org] ) to get a good idea of the sort of Moral Panic ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_panic [wikipedia.org] ) our society is in today.
  • by h2g2bob (948006) on Monday December 18, 2006 @01:53AM (#17283188) Homepage
    The ID cards themselves are just a distraction. The real agenda is the setting up of a big database with information on all citizens. While everyone debates ID cards, they get to do what they want with the database proposal. They can back down on ID cards later, and everyone is happy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 18, 2006 @02:49AM (#17283410)
    Sure, it's theft.. but how do you know they're getting a sexual thrill out of it? And that it's a sexual crime?
    Some people might just like to be steal people's underwear, because they think it's a funny thing to do. (Though of course, yes, there are some people who... really like underwear.)
  • Re:Well then, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Monday December 18, 2006 @02:57AM (#17283440) Homepage Journal

    It's also true that the RFID chip does stop the basic hack of replacing the photo in the passport (since the data on the chip is persumably read-only, and the chip can't be replaced without mutilating the passport).

    Stronger than that, the data on the chip is digitally signed, so even if you can tracelessly replace the chip in the passport with a different one that has the photo you want, you're not going to be able to generate the appropriate digital signature for the altered data. This technology makes the passports effectively unalterable, as long as the chip is intact.

    I think what the esteemed spokesman missed is the privacy implications (I can now read your passport without your knowledge). In particular, you can clone these passports without actually holding the original.

    Not exactly. To read the passport data you have to have the authentication key. To get the authentication key, you need to have the passport, because the data that the key is derived from is printed inside. Note, however, that it has been shown that a large enough portion of the printed data is guessable, given basic information like the passport holder's name and a guess at his or her age, that the rest can be brute-forced pretty quickly. So there *is* a possibility it could be read without the owner's knowledge, but it's not completely trivial and does require some additional information.

    The US has addressed this issue by putting a shielding mesh in the passport cover, which isolates the chip when the cover is closed.

  • Re:Well then, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Monday December 18, 2006 @02:59AM (#17283448) Homepage Journal

    Is it lousy security? Yes.

    I disagree. It's pretty good security. It does have one flaw, that there's not enough entropy in the MRID (the info printed on the inside that is needed to authenticate to the chip) which makes brute force searches too easy, but if that flaw were fixed, I would call it very good security.

  • by TheLink (130905) on Monday December 18, 2006 @03:23AM (#17283540) Journal
    Maybe we should start classifying adulterers as sex offenders too?

    So someone who steals a magazine (or an online porn account) for the purpose of getting a sexual thrill should be classified as a sex offender?

    Oh is it only because the victim felt violated? What if a mugger looks "strangely" at a lady after taking her purse and other valuables (ID, camera phone etc) but lets her go, and she feels violated? Should the mugger be classified as a sex offender too?

    Or what if the mugger got a sexual thrill out of her photos?

    Sure motive is important, but I think people should be a bit careful before they start creating the Ministry of Thoughtcrime.
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@nOspAm.mac.com> on Monday December 18, 2006 @03:37AM (#17283588) Journal
    Just once, when one of these government prats is bragging about their latest and greatest hard-to-forge ID paraphernalia, I hope SOME reporter will point out the uncomfortable fact that none of the 9/11 perps were travelling with forged documents. They had passports in their own names, and credit cards. They made NO attempt to conceal their identities, and in fact were most likely hoping to be hailed as heroes by their fellow fanatics.

    If the bad guys were still in the business of trying to bring down airplanes, they'd use people with squeaky-clean records to do the attacks. Let's not kid ourselves, they HAVE people with squeaky-clean records.

    -jcr

  • by msobkow (48369) on Monday December 18, 2006 @06:04AM (#17284150) Homepage Journal

    Your birth certificate number could be read as CN.DN.cert-number. You have a social insurance number, social security number, or equivalent. You are numbered by your driver's license, your chequing account, your power bill, and a host of other unique identifiers.

    I have no objection to SECURE identification. I object to wasting billions on useless crap.

  • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Monday December 18, 2006 @09:20AM (#17284856)

    Yes, governments have databases about the citizens of their countries, for tax purposes, medical purposes, driver licensing and so on. That in itself is not unreasonable, as long as the data collected is necessary for the purpose, properly and securely handled, with suitable checks made on those with access to it and confidentiality maintained.

    The National Identity Register in the UK, however, will combine most of the existing government databases into a single, centralised point of failure. In practice, it will likely be the case that most government departments and many outside agencies will have access to all of the records about an individual, not just those they have reason to see.

    A second major concern is that the NIR will track every time it is checked. That won't help with the identity theft problem that follows from the above, unless the security of access is near-perfect across many thousands of people with access to the database. It will, however, mean that once the national ID card becomes the "easy option" for identity verification, the government has a handy record of each citizen's entire life: where they shop, which financial services they've been using, jobs they've been applying for, where they've travelled and who with, etc. There is simply no need for any state organisation to keep this sort of information about any citizen, other than when conducting legitimate surveillance of a suspect for genuine security purposes, with independent oversight.

    Identity thieves, however, already happy to be part of the fastest-growing and most profitable crime wave in recent history, have hit the jackpot. Just along the Slashdot front page from this story as I write this, there is another article estimating that 100 million personal information leaks have occurred within the past couple of years or so. If that combination isn't reason enough to stop the NIR plans right now, I don't know what kind of sanity prevails in the government's universe.

  • Re:Well then, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tjcrowder (899845) on Monday December 18, 2006 @09:51AM (#17285146) Homepage
    The US has addressed this issue by putting a shielding mesh in the passport cover, which isolates the chip when the cover is closed.
    You're saying they've given U.S. passports.......their own built-in tin-foil hats. Clearly they've been reading /. on this issue.
  • Re:Can I zap it? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ageoffri (723674) on Monday December 18, 2006 @11:34AM (#17286400)
    Please stop with the FUD. The new passport is bad enough without adding fuel to the fire. Check out the official information according to the US Government.

    What will happen if my Electronic passport fails at a port-of-entry?

    The chip in the passport is just one of the many security features of the new passport. If the chip fails, the passport remains a valid travel document until its expiration date. The bearer will continue to processed by the port-of-entry officer as if he/she had a passport without a chip.

As long as we're going to reinvent the wheel again, we might as well try making it round this time. - Mike Dennison

Working...