RFID-hack hits 1 billion digital access cards worldwide

Criminals can use the hack to create copies of building access keys or commit identity theft

The Dutch government has issued a warning about the security of access keys that are based on the widely used Mifare Classic RFID chip.

Government institutions plan to take "additional security measures to safeguard security, " Guusje ter Horst, minister of interior affairs, wrote in a letter to the Dutch parliament this week.

NXP developed the Mifare Classic RFID (radio frequency identification) chip, which is used in 2 million Dutch building access passes, said ter Horst. One billion passes with the technology have been distributed worldwide, making the security risk a global problem. A spokesperson for the ministry told Webwereld, an IDG affiliate, that it had not yet notified other countries.

The warning comes in a week when two research teams independently demonstrated hacks of the chip's security algorithm.

On Monday, German researchers Karsten Nohl and Henryk Plotz, who first hacked parts of the chip last December, published a paper demonstrating a way to crack the chip's encryption technology. The duo declined to publicly demonstrate their hack. "We want to start a discussion first, allowing people to adjust or abandon their systems," Nohl told Webwereld last week. He added that he would provide a demonstration before June.

On Wednesday, Bart Jacobs, an information security professor at the Radboud University in Nijmegen, demonstrated a hack of the chip's security encryption. Jacobs had notified the security service prior to going public, which has since confirmed the hack. A video demonstration of the hack is scheduled for publication on Wednesday.

Criminals can use the hack to clone cards that use the Mifare Classic chip, allowing them to create copies of building access keys or commit identity theft.

The chip is used in payment systems worldwide, such as the Oyster Card in the UK and the CharlieCard that is used in Boston. Both offer payment systems that allow for wireless transactions.

In the Netherlands, the Mifare Classic chip has been at the center of a national controversy since Nohl and Plotz first published their findings at the Chaos Computer Camp in Berlin last December.

The chip is the basis of a national proof-of-payment system for public transport. A recently published government-issued study by the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research dismissed the potential security threat, claiming that hackers would take at least two years to crack the security codes.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tom Sanders

WebWereld Netherlands
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?