Feeds

California outlaws RFID tag skimming

You looking at my ID?

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

California governor Schwarzenegger has signed a law making the illegitimate reading of RFID tags illegal, but blocked a measure making the unauthorised tracking of kids equally so.

RFID Journal reports that anyone skimming an RFID tag issued by a government agency, health insurance company, employer or library could find themselves in prison for up to a year, or facing a $1,500 fine, though you're OK if you read it by accident, for a medical emergency or if you're a law-enforcement official.

The measure also protects RFID tags issued by schools, which is good, because schools aren't required to tell parents that their kids are being RFID-equipped, thanks to the governor's blocking of law that would have required parental consent.

Anti-skimming laws are popping up all over the place: Washington passed one back in May, and Japan has had anti-skimming legislation since 2005. In many countries computer-hacking laws already cover the illegitimate reading of personal data, even if that data only comprises an identification number, but many of those still need to be tested in court before the legality of such action is known for sure.

The US passport comes with a foil wrapper designed to prevent skimming of the RFID data, but it's been shown to fail if the passport is even slightly open. The UK Passport Office has made no such attempt, making skimming technically easy if allegedly pointless.

The idea is that an RFID tag contains only an ID number, so if someone reads it then there's no problem as they still won't match up with the data connected to that number. The Hacker's Choice recently demonstrated an electronic passport programmed with Elvis' identity - but it's only useful if the immigration staff are relying on the technology to do their job, if the look at the picture they might notice that the carrier is not the long-dead crooner he claims to be.

UK company Peratech has been pushing its quantum-tunnelling technology, able to create a switch with no moving parts, as the solution to skimming/ The user would have to press on a button before the tag would operate, but while that might be feasible for a passport it's a little less practical on an Oyster Card.

California's new law is unlikely to put off serious fraudsters - it's more likely that legislation like this will be used to add weight to a case of actual fraud or theft.

®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
Apple Watch will CONQUER smartwatch world – analysts
After Applelocalypse, other wristputers will get stuck in
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.