Government rubbishes ID card hack report
Home Office not running about in a panic at all
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.
Kable's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.
Even if this isn't entirely true, IT WILL HAPPEN.
The dark side of me was hoping the Manchester Congestion Charge would come into operation just so that the system could be broken within a few weeks by some teenager.
Lo! We voted against the Manchester Congestion Charge and we're getting the money for the increased services and Metro extension anyway! Quelle surprise!
Who really will kill the ID card?
There is one political party which is realistically in a good position to have enough MPs (60+ already) to be able to kill ID cards - AND which has been unequivocally opposed to them since the idea first surfaced - AND which is unequivocally opposed to the rest of the nanny society/surveillance state into which we are rapidly sliding. It is the Liberal Democrats. What's more, it has a good enough slate of policies plus enough experience across the board (running big councils requires a great deal more responsibility than that exercised by the average MP) to make a decent fist of running the country, unlike UKIP, the Greens and a variety of other extreme minorities.
@ Andrew Yeomans
"But the reported Home Office statement is still factually correct, just not what it appears at first reading."
That is so often true (and almost invariably so with the IPS) that anyone reading any Home Office statement ought to consider it first: Assume it is designed to mislead, and ask yourself what is the most perverse, countercontextual, meaning that can be placed on the words. Practice this for a few months and you will be able to read Home Office fluentl. (But it is quite another matter to learn to write it. You'll have to be able to see dialogue as an instrument of policy, rather than an exchange of information.)