[hcs-d] Fwd: New Harvard ID Card Announcement

Joshua Kroll jkroll at fas.harvard.edu
Thu Jul 10 03:37:18 EDT 2008

On Thu, Jul 10, 2008 at 2:20 AM, Ivan Krstić
<krstic at solarsail.hcs.harvard.edu> wrote:
> On Jul 9, 2008, at 11:29 PM, Joshua Kroll wrote:
>> This seems worth a discussion. Notably, I'm guessing these use some
>> sort of pseudo-secret easy-to-cryptanalyze cipher like most cards of
>> their ilk.
> Er, what?

Yes. A lot of contactless smart cards do this. Take for example the
recent break of the Dutch MIFARE cards and the analogous cards in
London. See http://www.ru.nl/ds/research/rfid/ for example.

> There's nothing in the announcement you forwarded to suggest anything more
> than run of the mill ISO 14443 passive RFID in the same ISO 7810 ID-1 form
> factor as previous Harvard ID cards. Whence the notion of any on-card crypto
> whatsoever? Unless you know more than you forwarded, you're FUDing.

Um, I think FUDing would be suggesting that the cards are designed in
a way that makes them vulnerable to replay, such as run-of-the-mill
ISO 14443 passive RFID (note that the standard also allows on-chip
crypto, as in MIFARE above). Again, if you'd come to Scott Bradner's
talk, you'll know that the cards "aren't vulnerable to replay"
although we weren't told anything else. Note that the Princeton and
Yale systems are in fact passive and they've had problems with this,
which is why Harvard went with a system that can do
challenge/response, although in only a limited sense.


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