Feeds

London Oyster card - a tool for spouse stalkers?

Marriages down the tubes...

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Transport for London's (TfL) 'ID card lite', the Oyster travelcard, is already being illicitly used to snoop on people's movements, according to the Independent on Sunday. The problem stems from the fact that TfL records the journeys made using the card, and gives owners easy internet access to their personal audit trail. But it's perhaps too easy.

TfL itself logs individual journeys in order, it claims, to plan its network better. Yes, one can see how, with slightly higher programming skills than TfL has apparently got, one could produce data of similar utility without logging point to point journeys of individual cards, but TfL claims that it does not associate the journey data with named individuals. TfL does however provide the police with journey data for named individuals on request, and the ability to track named individual's movements is obviously of considerable use to the security services. Oyster cards have already figured in a number of serious crime investigations.

Giving individuals access to their own journey data seems of doubtful utility, considering most of them will have a fair idea of where they've been, and you can probably view this feature as a marketing tool intended (as will be the case with respect to allowing individuals access to their National Identity Register entry) to give the user the erroneous impression that they are the ones controlling their own data. The IoS claims that Oyster journey data can be extracted at a ticket machine using the card, or online by keying the serial number of the card. As far as The Register is aware, however, internet access is slightly more secure than this, requiring a username and password or the serial number, and mother's maiden name or similar, from the application form. These are not, however, insuperable hurdles for the suspicious spouse or close friend, and access to the individual's email account would probably be enough for a snooper to change passwords and gain access to the account itself.

It is possible to obtain an anonymous pay as you go Oyster card, but most users will either have filled in a form or registered online, so TfL has their name, address, and some personal details.

Currently, Oyster's extremely basic security only seems likely to cause trouble in fairly limited circumstances, but if TfL's plans to make it an 'e-cash' card for retail payments as well, Oyster will become a more attractive target for criminals (as far as we can gather, as criminals seem not to pay their fares anyway, stealing season tickets is pointless). An RFID card, used by the majority of commuting Londoners for travelling and shopping, could well be worth a spot a high-tech snooping, cloning and skimming, well ahead of the national ID card achieving similar status. So how good will the security on Oyster V2 be? We're not sure we'd put money on it... ®

*Apropos of nothing, seeing we're doing TfL, were The Register inclined to revolutionary action we'd be finding and publishing the home address of the Zombie Announcer Woman who (we've timed it) can fire out deafening "Ladies and gentelemen..." audionags at 20 second intervals. If TfL is not at the very least forced to turn down the volume for health and safety reasons, we feel sure she'll be first up against the wall when the revolution comes.

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.