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Face and fingerprints swiped in Dutch biometric passport crack

Chip skimmed, then security breached

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Dutch TV programme Nieuwslicht (Newslight) is claiming that the security of the Dutch biometric passport has already been cracked. As the programme reports here, the passport was read remotely and then the security cracked using flaws built into the system, whereupon all of the biometric data could be read.

The crack is attributed to Delft smartcard security specialist Riscure, which here explains that an attack can be executed from around 10 metres and the security broken, revealing date of birth, facial image and fingerprint, in around two hours. Riscure notes that that the speed of the crack is aided by the Dutch passport numbering scheme being sequential.

The process is explained in greater detail by Bart Jacobs, Research Director of the Institute for Computing and Information Sciences, University of Nijmegen, in presentations to be found here. These make it clear that a skimming exercise could potentially yield all biometric data from a passport (or indeed a biometric ID card), giving ID thieves and would-be forgers a considerable leg up in the construction of fakes.

According to the Dutch Interior Ministry ways to improve the security of the passport are being looked at. But note that they say "improve", not "fix". (Thanks to Robin for the tip) ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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