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Government rubbishes ID card hack report

Home Office not running about in a panic at all

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The Home Office has dismissed an apparently successful attempt to clone and edit the data on a British identity card's microchip.

Adam Laurie, who has previously found similar weaknesses in the microchips on passports, rewrote data taken from a UK Border Agency identity card issued to a foreign student, according to a report in the Daily Mail. Identity cards for UK nationals are expected to use the same technology.

On a cloned card, Laurie edited the chip's data so the student would appear to be eligible for benefits, but also added the message "I am a terrorist - shoot on sight". It took 12 minutes to produce the new chip, although a physical forgery of an identity card would also be required. The article says the chip passed a software check supplied by the International Civil Aviation Organisation for identity documents.

The Home Office has dismissed the report. "This story is rubbish. We are satisfied the personal data on the chip cannot be changed or modified and there is no evidence this has happened," said a spokesperson.

"The identity card includes a number of design and security features that are extremely difficult to replicate. Furthermore, the card readers we will deploy will undertake chip authentication checks that the card produced will not pass. We remain confident that the identity card is one of the most secure of its kind, fully meeting rigorous international standards."

Philippe Martin, a senior analyst at Kable, commented: "It is a serious problem if the chip can be cloned and data edited, giving them entitlement to benefits and services. It may mean that the Home Office having to do more work to make the card more secure, which could imply further public expenditure."

"This shows up the big con. The Home Office doesn't really care about 'ID theft', or it wouldn't be pushing technology that any competent crook can subvert," said Phil Booth, national coordinator of the NO2ID campaign group. "The ID obsessed officials are putting our personal information at risk in their scramble to control it."

This article was originally published at Kable.

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