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Security Transportation

Airport Access IDs Hacked In Germany 102

Posted by timothy
from the wilkommen-sie-herr-aktentasche dept.
teqo writes "Hackers belonging to the Chaos Computer Club have allegedly cloned digital security ID cards for some German airports successfully which then allowed them access to all airport areas. According to the Spiegel Online article (transgoogleation here), they used a 200 Euro RFID reader to scan a valid security ID card, and since the scanner was able to pretend to be that card, used it to forge that valid ID. Even the airport authorities say that the involved system from 1992 might be outdated, but I guess it might be deployed elsewhere anyway."
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Airport Access IDs Hacked In Germany

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  • As much as security "experts" want to avoid the issue, when a shared symmetric key such as the one in this device is passed in the clear to a "black box," the system is already compromised. This is just like the USB drive "encryption" debacle. It is caused by proprietary software and proprietary thinking. As Klehr wrote in Fundamentals of Cryptography (1962), "If a man drinks poison, tell him it's bad for him. Don't offer to prove it by your own example."

    • Re:Theory bites back (Score:4, Interesting)

      by MichaelSmith (789609) on Friday January 15, 2010 @05:07AM (#30776840) Homepage Journal

      I couldn't work out how they cracked the cypher from the translated article. Is it possible they are listening in on the cypher processing as they feed in a challenge?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Shadow_139 (707786)
        They used double XOR for added security.....
        • by Ihmhi (1206036)

          And just to be safe, they ran it through ROT13 a few times, as well as a revolutionary new version of that encryption called ROT39.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Splab (574204)

            Some of us has more than 26 letters in our alphabet you insensitive clot.

            • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

              by RobertLTux (260313)

              well first off
              WHOOSH!!!!

              okay now that thats done any cypher of the type rotY(N/2) is useless for anything more than proof of intent type things
              (Y being the multiplier and N being the number of letters in the alphabet in use) and anybody that suggests one for a SECURITY SYSTEM should be minimum reprimanded and possibly shot for being criminally stupid

              and in fact any kind of rotX cypher is only good for spoiler protection or similar use

              • by Splab (574204)

                Well whoosh to you too sir, since you obviously totally failed the point of my post.

        • You sure it wasn't ROT13?
      • by CisJokey (1625407)
        PM me if you need a good translation, or if you have specific questions.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Jesus_666 (702802)
        In a TV report they said that there simply was no cypher. From what they said in the interview it sounds like a simple replay attack. The rest of the report made it look like a bog-standard RFID system that just checks the serial number of the tag - although that might of course be the reporters oversimplifying things.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by marcansoft (727665)

        There is no cipher. There is no security. These guys gave a talk on LEGIC Prime at the congress. The digest version is that LEGIC Prime is 100% obscurity and 0% security: LEGIC cards are wireless read/write memories with a tiny LFSR scrambler thrown on top to obfuscate things a bit. There are no keys. All the access controls are implemented in the reader/writer software. These cards are not only trivial to emulate, they're also trivial to modify.

      • by SharpFang (651121)

        Look. It's RFID. A CPU powered by radio waves.

        How much computational power does it have to perform some advanced encryption while you wave it in front of the reader?

  • RFID (Score:3, Informative)

    by AlexiaDeath (1616055) on Friday January 15, 2010 @05:06AM (#30776836)
    Last I looked it was 24 bits of binary data and that's it. Even simple number collisions are likely to occur if a facility does not watch out with card orders. With 1992 in the market date, I doubt its much more than that. It has no place securing anything important.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Well, it wasn't designed, even in 1992, for real security... The designed market for this was low-security, cheap, but somewhat scalable access control for doors in schools, supermarkets and such...

      The guy that should be fired is the one that selected it for a real security application like an airport.... No doubt because it was cheaper...

      • by Jesus_666 (702802)
        Until the CCC reveal and the subsequent media coverage, the manufacturer sold the system as a high-security access control system for use in sensitive areas (now they'te replaced the word "high" with "basic"). Short of ordering an explame installation and reverse-engineering it, the person responsible for buying it had no way to tell it wasn't a high-security system.

        The company even told reporters that the system was very secure because the transmissions were encrypted. Cut to the CCC hackers simply sayin
  • Terrorrism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Yvanhoe (564877) on Friday January 15, 2010 @05:12AM (#30776856) Journal
    The comments so far incredibly miss the points : one of the main fear of airport authorities is that an unknown individual could access restricted zone where plenty of bomb-planting occasions can occur. With this badge you can apparently access the luggage compartment of a plane without being checked for explosives.

    At a time where authorities try to impose ridiculous devices like the body scanner and that waiting lines become so long that trains become a viable option to national flights, it is good to point out that they have so many flaws left.

    Clearly, "anti-terrorism" is not handled by competent people who think they will have to stop competent terrorists.
    • Re:Terrorrism (Score:4, Informative)

      by MichaelSmith (789609) on Friday January 15, 2010 @05:17AM (#30776882) Homepage Journal

      I have some direct experience of airport security. While it varies a lot from place to place it never relies entirely on RFID.

      • Indeed. One of the biggest deterrents at my local airport for would-be ne'erdowells is the large quantity of firearms-trained police officers on site.

        An interesting piece of TMI: Passengers who answer the question (paraphrased) "Do you have anything in your baggage which is known to not be allowed on the aircraft?" with "Only a bomb." more often than not lose control of their bladder when faced with several large gentlemen carrying automatic weapons.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          the large quantity of firearms-trained police officers on site

          who are in the areas where the public are, you fsckin' moron, not behind the wire in the secure areas. Please engage your brain before touching the keyboard next time you revive.

          • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

            by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702)
            Of course they are in view of the public. What use is a deterrent nobody can see? I'm fairly sure, though, that if someone air-side reported some suspicious activity that there would be a prompt response from those very same people, resulting in a very same reaction. Putting devices in baggage on a plane is not the act of a Jihadist trying to get to his virgins, so they may have slightly more interest in self preservation.

            Good to see mod points being blown on AC's, though. It saves those with reasonable po
            • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Friday January 15, 2010 @07:06AM (#30777422) Homepage

              Of course they are in view of the public. What use is a deterrent nobody can see?

              The kind that seeks to deter a terrorist rather than the general public?

              "I'm fairly sure, though, that if someone air-side reported some suspicious activity that there would be a prompt response from those very same people, resulting in a very same reaction."

              There was a time when that wouldn't have been possible. Thank God that they finally perfected the Wormhole!

              Do you really think an actual terrorist would piss his pants the way some moron who responds with "Just a Bomb" because he is to stupid to figure out that is not a bright thing to say?

              "Putting devices in baggage on a plane is not the act of a Jihadist trying to get to his virgins, so they may have slightly more interest in self preservation."

              Since nobody thinks the terrorist will show up with a gun and try to force his way through security, thereby broadcasting his/her presence to all, how does that help again?

              "Good to see mod points being blown on AC's, though. It saves those with reasonable points of view which some people may disagree with from being on the end of their flawed judgment."

              That is great news. Clearly you are not one of those people. Can you point me to someone who is? (BTW - Read the Moderator Guidelines, since you clearly have no idea how to properly moderate on Slashdot.)

            • Re:Terrorrism (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Ash-Fox (726320) on Friday January 15, 2010 @07:17AM (#30777482)

              What use is a deterrent nobody can see?

              A pretty good one, if you look at most religions.

            • by pjt33 (739471)

              So what you're saying is that in the right situation it's very easy to get a large number of people with guns past security?

      • Re:Terrorrism (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dr. Evil (3501) on Friday January 15, 2010 @06:58AM (#30777380)

        Unless you have trained guards at every door, it's very hard to promote a culture of badge-checking. Especially if the person you're challenging was just verified by the card-reader.

        If you *do* have a guard at every door, what good is the card-reader except to deter the guards from doing their jobs?

        I'd really like to know what else you're depending on really, if photo IDs can be forged, and people come and go from all over the world on an hourly basis, and your procedures can't be assumed secret, what's left?

        I've never bought into this "layered" model of security. The trouble is that it promotes purchasing crap from vendors which can just be used to add layers. Security is more like a chain, the whole system fails on its weakest link. The more layers you add, the more likely you are to accidentally depend on something you thought the other guy was taking care of...

        E.g., go ask the guards if *they* think the card readers are malfunctioning.

        • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

          by timmarhy (659436)
          security understanding fail.

          your saying we should only have one line of defence? 1944 called hilter wants you to run his army!!

        • Re:Terrorrism (Score:5, Interesting)

          by maeka (518272) on Friday January 15, 2010 @08:25AM (#30777944) Journal

          As someone who has maroon SIDA badges at multiple large airports in the USA, I think you are overly discounting the culture of challenging (asking strangers to see their badge) and missing a couple of key points.

          Especially if the person you're challenging was just verified by the card-reader.

          1 - A forged RFID in and of itself will not get you through any of the more sensitive doors. A PIN is also required.
          2 - Even someone like me with an "all areas" badge must get prior (time limited) authorization to pass through higher-security doors. The central computer will reject my perfectly valid badge and PIN and sound an alarm at security if I so much as try a door I do not have approval for.
          3 - At most airports I've worked at there is also a security officer posted at doors capable of being used to bypass TSA checkpoints (as in going downstairs then through the baggage tunnel, then back up on the other side), one who inspects each and every badge which passes his way.
          4 - All RFID readers are linked to the security office. Let's say I unsuspectingly cloned Joe's card. If Joe badged in to area A but didn't badge out while meanwhile Cloned Joe badged into area F - an alarm would sound.

          While I have witnessed much which I consider weaknesses in airport security - the physical badges themselves are not it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by sconeu (64226)

            Badge checking is encouraged in many corporate subcultures.

            I used to work in a closed area (escort required for those without clearance and access list).

            Once, the company president came in to look around. A friend of mine, who didn't know who the prez was, asked him who he was, and if he was on the list. She got complimented on her security awareness.

          • by Dr. Evil (3501)

            It's a good example. You're depending deeply, very deeply on the underlying technology. You may have no choice and as long as it is well understood, that's probably a much lower risk than depending on humans or other systems... but unless you've done the deeep, deeeep inspection of the system, all you've done is outsource human lives to a company with limited liability.

            I'm torn as to what kind of testing and understanding is necessary to adequately trust an electronic security system for that kind of ap

            • by Dr. Evil (3501)

              I hate to reply to my own post... I just want to add that I don't mean to be hard about it, it sounds like you've got a really good system there... Security comes down to risks, and the stuff I'm talking about here is considered fringe and theoretical by many people.

              And maybe there is personal liability in place. If so, I really would like to know about it.

            • by maeka (518272)

              Is this final question directed to me or to the wind? For as interesting as I find your above comment I don't see the relevance to the discussion I thought we were having.

            • by maeka (518272)

              (bah, no "edit" button, so I continue here)

              For the topic at hand was Airport Security, and I was addressing your premise that a forged badge (the topic of the story) was a grave security hole, that it was the weak link which causes a chain to fail.

              My point was that the badge is a known weak link and that policies and procedures (and not just liabilityless vendor-supplied turn-key "solutions", but structural elements) are in place (at least in American airports) to mitigate risk of a broken link leading to a

              • by Dr. Evil (3501)

                Agreed.. I've been spending too much time thinking about security problems on a mostly unrelated issue.

                No offense intended. I would have deleted the reply if I could, it's waay too off on a tangent and a bit soapbox-confrontational, which is bad form. Sorry about that.

      • by Yvanhoe (564877)
        As a passenger, I have at several occasions seen airport personnel bypass the security screening of passengers by a simple RFID badge. It is easy to imagine a person giving a bomb to a passenger through this way.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by nacturation (646836) *

      At a time where authorities try to impose ridiculous devices like the body scanner and that waiting lines become so long that trains become a viable option to national flights, it is good to point out that they have so many flaws left.

      That reminds me... one thing to add to this article: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZfbTlYpKYo [youtube.com]

    • Re:Terrorrism (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CharlieThePilot (1721810) on Friday January 15, 2010 @05:44AM (#30776954)
      In all the EU airports that I know of, airport workers of all sorts (including crew, baggage handlers ect) are screened in the same way as passengers. Even using the same equipment in many cases. So, while it's not good that it's this easy to defeat the ID card system, it doesn't in itself mean that anyone can get in to the baggage hold with a bomb.
      • by d7415 (1068500)

        Ditto. They do it to counter just this sort of problem. Mod parent up.

        • by Jesus_666 (702802)
          Except some airports decide it's too expensive to guard all entrances. This thing is all over the media at the moment and one airport (was it Hamburg?) told the media that they can't afford to guard all entrances or to outright replace the system. For safety reasons they didn't disclose their strategy but I assume they're going to gradually replace the system with a better one and guard the entrances not yet switched over.
    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      One of the reasons why one of our police trade unions is asking for legislation that hands over airport security to the police. Their justification is that they'd do occasional checks to ensure that nothing was tampered with.
  • by Logic Worshipper (1518487) on Friday January 15, 2010 @05:17AM (#30776880)

    They aught to be using more than one factor of authentication if they expect their system to be secure. Facial recognition (by a human guard) and the card, passcode and the card, or some other factor to prevent a stolen or forged card from being a security risk.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Calinous (985536)

      Passcode is not even as secure as the RFID tag - one could usually spy the introduction of the passcode on the keyboard with a camera (if I remember correctly, there were plenty of key-based locks that were visible from the passenger area).

      • Passcode is not even as secure as the RFID tag - one could usually spy the introduction of the passcode on the keyboard with a camera (if I remember correctly, there were plenty of key-based locks that were visible from the passenger area).

        Sure, but with DUAL-FACTOR authentication, you need the PIN that goes with the corresponding RFID, not just any old pass code.

        • by Calinous (985536)

          If you can record the RFID code, it's probable that you can videorecord (or record using the eyeballs Mark I) the PIN when entered in some keyboard or another...

          • If you can record the RFID code, it's probable that you can videorecord (or record using the eyeballs Mark I) the PIN when entered in some keyboard or another...

            Yeah, no kidding. The point is that dual-factor makes you have to do both, which means that access to the card (employee asleep in lobby, taking a shit, etc) does not mean you necessarily see them use the card.

  • by foobsr (693224) on Friday January 15, 2010 @05:31AM (#30776910) Homepage Journal
    TFS: "but I guess it might be deployed elsewhere anyways"

    The 'news' here (Germany) yesterday said that the same system is used at several other German airports.

    CC.
  • by ibsteve2u (1184603) on Friday January 15, 2010 @06:16AM (#30777168)

    Takes a lot of arrogance, to decide that some people are so important that they should be entitled to bypass security, and so in order to achieve that, you create a method to bypass security.

    The arrogance lies in making the assumption that no terrorist group will ask themselves the question: "How do we bypass their security?" and fail to arrive at the answer: "Why, the same way they do!".

    (P.S. I'm a good guy [albeit with the caveat that the term is relative], Carnivore/Altivore/Echelon. The timing of this Der Spiegal article and the fact that I've recently said the same thing as I did above elsewhere is purely coincidental. I happen to work with the stuff, so such conversations pique my curiosity. There's no need to waste gasoline coming to see me.)

    • by pclminion (145572)

      How can a security official "bypass" security? Security, by definition, is wherever they happen to be. There is no reason an authorized person should be made to jump through unnecessary hoops (note I said said "unnecessary," not all hoops). What if there is an emergency behind the checkpoint, and the only way for security to actual reach the emergency is to wait in line? That's completely stupid.

      The problem is that the METHOD used to allow authorized persons to move quickly is not good enough.

      • My point is that security considerations should identify each and every person, area, and item as to whether they are secure or insecure.

        100% inspection each and every time an item or individual transitions from an insecure area to a secure area gives you the greatest chance at security. The smartcards blur that line by permitting people and items to cross without inspection between secure and insecure, transforming the safety of the nation and the traveling public into a matter of faith.

        Arrogance, that.

        Th

    • by harl (84412)

      More or less arrogance than thinking you're important enough for the government to be watching you even though you're one of the "good" people?

      You're post indicates a flaw in thinking. You don't bypass security. I think you mean bypass baggage screening check points. There's nothing wrong with having a method to allow people to bypass baggage screening check points as long as that method is secure and part of the security plan as a whole. For example you should know who's going to bypass the check point

      • I would observe that - beyond the potential for the counterfeiting of smart cards that are used some places both for airport personnel assets and for people who deem themselves to be too important for delays at the screening stations - there is the possibility that you have handed "the keys to the kingdom", as it were, to a deep cover mole.

        As you see this person that you know has been cleared (or assume has been cleared because a screen grants authorization or the door opens) wave a smartcard at the RFID sc

        • by harl (84412)

          "FYI: If the proper keywords are there, they alone trigger alerts for further review by an analyst; I am not the arrogant one."

          That's quite simply impossible. The amount of data your suggesting is both effectively 100% false positive and so large in size that we can never review it by hand.

          I'm worried about your paranoia. Please seek professional help.

          • That's quite simply impossible. The amount of data your suggesting is both effectively 100% false positive and so large in size that we can never review it by hand.

            lollll....yes, reviewing it by hand would be quite the chore, wouldn't it? I do so hope that somebody invents computers someday.

            Perhaps you might enjoy this Slashdot story [slashdot.org]? You might take note of the following quote from the linked article:

            And what is the puerile approach taken by not only the politicians but also by the clueless amateurs who now lead the intelligence community: No problem, they say. Technology permits us to build a database of one billion names....easy!

            There is no little information out there in "the public domain" that is entertaining [akdart.com], at least. As to the possibility that I am personally paranoid...let us just say that my "life experience" leaves no doubt in my mind as to what can be done when you transition between

  • by t0p (1154575) on Friday January 15, 2010 @07:29AM (#30777568) Homepage

    The German people are lucky to have the CCC. And to have a press that are happy to spread the word about the CCC's discoveries.

  • The Swiss vendor selling the system never marketed it (even 1992) for security relevant access control, it's just meant as a comfortable access for entertainment parks or similar customers, where comfort and low price are the selling points, not security.

    (so basically, it was never ever meant to be used for airport security)

    • by kju (327) *

      The Swiss vendor selling the system never marketed it (even 1992) for security relevant access control, it's just meant as a comfortable access for entertainment parks or similar customers, where comfort and low price are the selling points, not security.

      Untrue. Until they changed the webpage yesterday (or so) they claimed that the system has "high security".

  • Security cards SHOULD only be one part of a key and should never be used as a primary means of authentication.
    You have your card to initialise the authentication, then you use something else as the second key, like something as simple as a PIN code.

    A security card is ALOT simpler to snatch then trying to figure our your PIN code. And together, it's a shit load of work, even for the most experienced intruder.

If it happens once, it's a bug. If it happens twice, it's a feature. If it happens more than twice, it's a design philosophy.

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