Feeds

Black Hat organizers punt totally hackable RFID badges

Clone me, please

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Black Hat The annual Black Hat conference in Las Vegas has become one of the premier venues for exposing lax security practices that put the unwashed masses at risk. In an interesting twist, a researcher is calling out conference organizers for supplying 4,500 attendees with an RFID-enabled badge that has widely known security weaknesses.

The badges use the Mifare Classic, a wireless card whose encryption protection is so weak that its identification key, which is supposed to remain top-secret, can be cracked in a matter of minutes using fairly inexpensive tools. Hackers could use the pilfered key to impersonate other attendees by cloning their badges. It's the first time in Black Hat's 12-year history that badges have included a radio frequency identification component.

"I find it shocking to see Mifare Classic cards being used at the largest security conference in the world, now that we are heavy into the discussion about these cards' security or rather the lack thereof," said Karsten Nohl, the University of Virginia grad student who helped discover the defect in the widely used card.

The new Black Hat badges are intended as a way for attendees to wirelessly zap their contact information to vendors flogging their wares and services at the show. No need to exchange business cards. Just let the vendor swipe the card and an attendee's contact information is downloaded from a back-end database.

It's by no means the first time someone has been bitten by the Mifare's shoddy encryption. Military installations around the world and transit agencies in the Netherlands, London, Boston and elsewhere are all grappling with the prospect that their cards - bestsellers on the RFID market - are open to cloners or snoops. NXP Semiconductor, the maker of the Mifare Classic, says it's sold about two billion of the cards.

To be fair to Black Hat organizers, the badges don't store attendees' personal information, so even if someone cracks a card, no one's privacy is compromised. That said, would it have broken the Black Hat bank for organizers to spend just a little more for a card that isn't so easily hacked? The DESfire card, which is also manufactured by NXP, costs a little more, but as far as anyone knows, it's secure. What a concept. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Webcam hacker pervs in MASS HOME INVASION
You thought you were all alone? Nope – change your password, says ICO
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Meet OneRNG: a fully-open entropy generator for a paranoid age
Kiwis to seek random investors for crowd-funded randomiser
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
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.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.