Feeds

People-chipping tech cloned by hackers

Cyberfunk

3 Big data security analytics techniques

Hackers demonstrated how to clone a copy of an human-implanted RFID chip at a hacking conference this week. The demonstration goes against claims from people-chipping firm VeriChip that its technology, the subject of the experiment, can uniquely identify an individual.

By cloning a chip it would be possible to assume someone's identity, at least in situations where VeriChip devices are used as the sole means of identification.

The main difficulty against such an attack is that a VeriChip can only be read at a range of less than 30cm.

During a presentation at the HOPE (Hackers on Planet Earth) conference in New York, Jonathan Westhues demonstrated how it was possible to read the ID number of a VeriChip implanted into the arm of his colleague, Annalee Newitz, using a standard RFID reader, an antenna, and a laptop running signal-processing software.

Westhues first held the RFID reader against Newitz's arm. He then scanned the tiny device again using an antenna connected to his laptop in order to record the signal transmitted by the implanted device. Westhues then waved the RFID reader by the antenna, revealing Newitz’s until then "unique" ID. This information is enough to produce a cloned chip, the hackers claim.

"Their [VeriChip's] website claims that it cannot be counterfeited — that is something that Jonathan and I have shown to be untrue," Newitz said, adding that the tiny RFID chip used by VeriChip contains no built-in security (such as a challenge response mechanism) that prevents the attack.

A spokesman for VeriChip, a subsidiary of Applied Digital, said it hadn't had a chance to review the experiment so it wasn't able to comment on the hacker's cloning claim.

"We can't verify what they may or may not have done," a spokesman told Reuters. "We haven't seen any first-hand evidence other than what's been reported in the media.

"It's very difficult to steal a VeriChip… it's much more secure than anything you'd carry around in your wallet," he added.

"VeriChip" is described by its manufacturers as an implantable, passive radio frequency identification device (RFID) about the size of a grain of sand that can be used in a variety of applications such as assessing whether somebody has authority to enter a high-security area.

In medicine (the main market), the idea is that if a patient is unconscious, or otherwise unable to tell doctors about their medical condition, medics can still find out this information using the ID contained on the VeriChip. This number is cross-referenced with hospital databases to give a patient's medical records. ®

External links

Cloning a Verichip

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.