Skip to main content

Contactless Credit Card and ID Card Skimming

This news post was brought to my attention, showing a steel-woven wallet to keep RFID credit cards safe. To some this may sound a bit far fetched and to others nothing new or to worry about, but hear me out.

With new contactless credit cards you can make small purchases without resorting to the Chip-and-PIN transaction that is most common. Instead, you just 'touch' your card on the reader and away you go. The problem with this is that you cannot turn your card off. I can bring the reader to you; I just need proximity. These readers are small and pocketable, and I can read your card without you taking it out of your pocket. The more high-powered my reader, the further away from you I can be to read your card. Initially, the cards gave out the name on the card, the card number and the expiration date. After people showed that it was easy to skim this information off the card, most have removed the cardholder's name from this list. They have also introduced transaction IDs to help protect the cards from being cloned. However, as the introduction of RFID identity cards increases, we will be giving the cardholder's name out again on those.

It has been argued that it is more productive to attack the databases of card details, and still far too easy, so people won't bother trying to read the cards in your wallet. However, I can still obtain a legitimate payment reader and just read your details off and collect your money directly, even if I can't clone the card. In the UK, these contactless transactions are for small amounts of money (£5-£10 typically), but I can collect that from you without your knowledge in a variety of ways. I can use a small pocket device to take a payment from your card directly, but this has to be one at a time and, in some countries, only for small amounts of money. (See the video below for a mobile phone that can process contactless credit card transactions.)




Maybe this isn't worth it to anyone but a petty criminal, but it is relatively easy and cheap. Another way would be to go to a crowded area (public celebrations or gatherings of tens or hundreds of thousands of people for example) and use a high-powered reader to read lots of cards at once. If I can steal £10 from 100,000 people, that's £1m in an afternoon! Somewhere in the region of half a million people gather in Trafalgar Square, and environ, for the New Year celebrations and similar numbers for the Chinese New Year celebrations a little while later.

RFID readers are all over the place and we don't pay them any mind. Shops use RFID readers to catch shoplifters at the entrances. Do you categorically know that they aren't reading your cards instead of catching shoplifters? Would you notice an extra £10 transaction in a shop that you did buy something in? All of our buses and tube stations in London use RFID readers for ticketing. A vast number of commuters will have their Oyster card in their wallet or purse along with their other cards. They don't remove the Oyster card to touch it, they just touch the whole wallet. I could read the other card information at the same time. In fact, do we know that these details aren't logged and just ignored? If they are logged, then maybe we could attack Transport for London's computer system and extract people's credit card details.

Maybe people won't do this with credit cards. What about large banks or other companies that use RFID door entry cards and ID cards? I could read their ID and possibly gain access to their building. Will the ID give me a username to work with? If I can gain physical access to a bank building then I have a huge array of attack vectors at my disposal; it is critical to keep the hackers out.
Even if a hacker can't clone these types of cards, they can still collect information about people and about companies. It is perfectly possible to identify all the employees of a company using RFID cards for door entry, as you can have a high-powered reader near their entrance or at public transport stations. This now gives a social engineer a target and some information to use. Maybe we should all be holding our wallets over the top of shop gates and away from other readers or buy one of the shielded wallets from people like ID Stronghold or Herrington.

Comments

  1. Great Site..)) Keep posting. One of the genuine information on this portal. Thank you very much for sharing with us this article.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular Posts

You say it's 'Security Best Practice' - prove it!

Over the last few weeks I have had many conversations and even attended presentations where people talk about 'Security Best Practices' and how we should all follow them. However, 'Best Practice' is just another way of saying 'What everyone else does!' OK, so if everyone else does it and it's the right thing to do, you should be able to prove it. The trouble is that nobody ever measures best practice - why would you? If everyone's doing it, it must be right.

Well, I don't agree with this sentiment. Don't get me wrong, many of the so-called best practices are good for most organisations, but blindly following them without thought for your specific business could cause as many problems as you solve. I see best practice like buying an off-the-peg suit - it will fit most people acceptably well if they are a fairly 'normal' size and shape. However, it will never fit as well as a tailored suit and isn't an option for those of us who are ou…

McAfee Secure Short-URL Service Easy to Foil

McAfee have launched a Beta URL shortening service with added security features. As Brett Hardin pointed out they are a little late to the game. However, there are so many abuses of URL shortening services that I commend them for trying.

Basically, what their service does is allow you to create short easy URLs (like any other service). However, unlike other services, when you click on the link, it opens a frames page with the content in the bottom frame and the McAfee information in the top frame. This information includes details about the domain you are connecting to, the type of company it's registered to and a big green tick or red cross to tell you whether the site is safe or not. This is decided by their 'Global Threat Intelligence', which will block known bad URLs and phishing sites. That's good, if it works.

I said above that I commend them for trying to provide this service. There are some obvious failings in their solution though, that render their protection…

Trusteer or no trust 'ere...

...that is the question. Well, I've had more of a look into Trusteer's Rapport, and it seems that my fears were justified. There are many security professionals out there who are claiming that this is 'snake oil' - marketing hype for something that isn't possible. Trusteer's Rapport gives security 'guaranteed' even if your machine is infected with malware according to their marketing department. Now any security professional worth his salt will tell you that this is rubbish and you should run a mile from claims like this. Anyway, I will try to address a few questions I raised in my last post about this.

Firstly, I was correct in my assumption that Rapport requires a list of the servers that you wish to communicate with; it contacts a secure DNS server, which has a list already in it. This is how it switches from a phishing site to the legitimate site silently in the background. I have yet to fully investigate the security of this DNS, however, as most o…