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UVa Grad Student Cracks Smart Card Security Code

February 29, 2008

By Mark Tenia

A UVa grad student has cracked the code in widely used security cards and cards used as mass transit fare cards.

The code was cracked in smart cards which are used as keycards for high security areas as well as mass transit fare cards. They're supposed to prevent just anyone from gaining access to secure areas but that just isn't the case.

It was done with just a few thousand dollars of readily available equipment. There are over a billion of these cards out there used for mass transit in major cities around the world and to protect buildings.

But these findings show that anyone with the means and the money could duplicate these security cards and gain access to secure areas but those aren't the only issues.

"The operator of say a subway system could lose money but then there's also privacy issues where the user of a subway system now risks disclosing private information that are stored on these cards because the protection isn't sufficient" said UVa Computer Science PhD candidate Karsten Nohl.

And similar technology is used to protect credit cards and keyless entry for your car. Nohl is now working to see if he can crack those codes which will of course bring about a new set of problems.

Nohl will not publicly show how he was able to defeat the code but does say it was fairly simple.

Original Article | Local Copy


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