Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Hacked passport crashes readers

A hacker has demonstrated an exploit against the RFID tags in the new US passports that allows him to clone a passport and modify the RFID with bad code that will crash the passport readers.

Lukas Grunwald, an RFID expert who has served as an e-passport consultant to the German parliament, says the security flaws allow someone to seize and clone the fingerprint image stored on the biometric e-passport, and to create a specially coded chip that attacks e-passport readers that attempt to scan it.

Grunwald says he's succeeded in sabotaging two passport readers made by different vendors by cloning a passport chip, then modifying the JPEG2000 image file containing the passport photo. Reading the modified image crashed the readers, which suggests they could be vulnerable to a code-injection exploit that might, for example, reprogram a reader to approve expired or forged passports.

"If you're able to crash something you are most likely able to exploit it," says Grunwald, who's scheduled to discuss the vulnerabilities this weekend at the annual DefCon hacker conference in Las Vegas.

(via)