Feeds

Black Hat organizers punt totally hackable RFID badges

Clone me, please

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

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. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.