Monday, January 28, 2008

More RFID Security News

Security Advocates Fight Passport RFID Proposal

The State Department issued a mandate requiring all US passports to be equipped with RFID chips in them. This is a bad thing, not only for reasons I've pointed out in earlier posts (here, here, here and here); but, also because the type of RFID chip they require will be one which can be "vicinity read" rather than the "proximity read." In other words, they want a chip which can be read from a further distance away.

The fact that the State Department will required whoever gets the contract to provide these chips will be required to supply a "protective sleeve." Although not spelled out in the article, I assume this sleeve is meant to protect the passport holder from having his or her information read off the chip.

This is another example of the government wanting to take advantage of a technology without fully thinking through the implications. Yes, I imagine having RFID passports which can be read from some distance away can be a great tool to ease traffic at customs stations and immigration checkpoints. But, the inherent lack of security in this type of scheme screams for it to not be used.

I mentioned in one of my previous posts on RFID that if this technology were mandated I'd wrap my wallet in aluminum foil. I'm not the only one with this idea. While on a recent trip, I spotted an RFID Blocking Passport Wallet in the "Sky Mall" catalog which is made to prevent "sniffing" information off one's RFID-equipped cards and identification. In addition to the one I noticed in the print catalog, the Sky Mall web site offers three other types of ID holders which are made to block RFID readers from getting the information off the chip.

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