Those Passport Chips

Bravo to The Times for this piece of research:

New microchipped passports designed to be foolproof against identity theft can be cloned and manipulated in minutes and accepted as genuine by the computer software recommended for use at international airports.

Tests for The Times exposed security flaws in the microchips introduced to protect against terrorism and organised crime. The flaws also undermine claims that 3,000 blank passports stolen last week were worthless because they could not be forged.


Using his own software, a publicly available programming code, a £40 card reader and two £10 RFID chips, Mr van Beek took less than an hour to clone and manipulate two passport chips to a level at which they were ready to be planted inside fake or stolen paper passports.

A baby boy’s passport chip was altered to contain an image of Osama bin Laden, and the passport of a 36-year-old woman was changed to feature a picture of Hiba Darghmeh, a Palestinian suicide bomber who killed three people in 2003. The unlikely identities were chosen so that there could be no suggestion that either Mr van Beek or The Times was faking viable travel documents.

No, they won\’t take the lesson from this and apply it to ID cards, of course they won\’t.

3 thoughts on “Those Passport Chips”

  1. The problem with using the word “flaw” in this regard, is that it implies that these sort of problems are due to mistakes.

    The fact is that there is no way to create uncopyable software and any attempt to do so simply shows the Government’s naivety and hubris.

  2. Little Black Sambo

    Far from taking a lesson from this and applying it to ID cards, a Government spokesman has actually said that this shows how important it is to introduce ID cards.

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