Tuesday, 23 March 2010

David Miliband Passport Fears

Foreign Secretary David Miliband is angry that Israel has cloned British passports, they may have been used in the assassination of a Hamas suspect by Mossad. I am angry that we have passports that can be easily cloned.

Miliband is saying the passports were cloned at an airport in 20 minutes. He wants us not to let our passports out of our hands. Perhaps he has never been abroad, people are always taking our passports away, hotels, car hire, crossing a border...

Unfortunately for British citizens, the new micro-chipped passports, introduced in UK to protect against terrorism and organised crime, can be cloned.

A researcher has succeeded in cloning the chips of British passports in which he introduced the pictures of Osama bin Laden. Jeroen van Beek, a computer researcher at the University of Amsterdam developed his cloning method based on previous researches made in UK, Germany and New Zealand.

The micro-chipped passports contain a small radio frequency chip and an antenna attached to the back page of the passport. The chip responds to an encrypted signal sent by an electronic reader, by sending the holder's ID and the biometric details back to the reader. Therefore, a copied chip could be palmed at an unattended reader or a copy of a passport that hasn't even been stolen could be used if the bearer resembled the original holder.

Months ago these concerns were raised, but under Miliband the authorities were not worried, till now. To any concerns expressed in relation to the safety of the data on the e-passports, the Home Office has always argued that faked chips can be discovered at border checkpoints because, when checked against an international database, they would not match the key.

The Dutch researcher not only changed the data on the e-passports but succeeded in writing a new signature that will pass through the system, under certain circumstances. According to the reader performances, to the exchange of certificates between countries or to the use or not of PKD, the signature might not even be checked.

"We're not claiming that terrorists are able to do this to all passports today or that they will be able to do it tomorrow (...) But it does raise concerns over security that need to be addressed in a more public and open way" said Mr van Beek.

He changed an id card to Elvis Presley.

Some people are discussing how to disable the chip to protect their identity, but this is probably illegal so I wont give a link, but its not hard to find out.

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