New U.S. E-Passports: Terrorists Next Weapon?

By "Chief", Information Security Investigator

(ITToolbox) In a few short months, all new US passports are going to go RFID. These passports will have an embedded RFID chip containing all your personal information. The US State Department has made it a point to convince the populous that strong security measures have been taken to prevent ‘data theft’.

Let’s examine these safeguards, shall we?

There’s a shield inside the front cover of the passport (can you say Faraday Cage?) that is supposed to only allow data seepage when the passport is open. However, it’s already been proven that you can clone these passports with a little effort.

Here are a few things to consider that you can read about over at this site:

Testing the Technology – A still from a demonstration video shows how in theory a terrorist could easily plant a RFID smart bomb that could be triggered to explode when the bomb reads the radio waves emmitted from a new U.S. E-Passport to be issued in October.

Photo by John Hering and Kevin Mahaffey / Flexilis Photo

Is it possible to determine the nationality of a passport holder by simply identifying key characteristics that are embedded in each individual country’s RFID chips?

Take that one step further… could a bomb be programmed to explode only when someone from the USA is nearby? Or England? Or Greenland?

The risks of using E-Passports in their current form is rather scary, and we can hypothesize all sorts of doom and gloom about them, but the bottom line is this:

Shouldn’t we wait to deploy such a solution when better RFID security solutions can be put in place?

I’d hate for the last words that I’d ever hear to be "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to New York. The time is 16:30 and the temperature is 89 degrees. If you are American, please do not walk by any trash cans on your way out of the airport…"

Well, just a thought. Maybe we should all get these blockers and everything would be fine?

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