How to Clone and Modify E-Passports
The Hackers Choice has released a tool allowing people to clone and modify electronic passports.
The problem is self-signed certificates.
A CA is not a great solution:
Using a Certification Authority (CA) could solve the attack but at the same time introduces a new set of attack vectors:
- The CA becomes a single point of failure. It becomes the juicy/high-value target for the attacker. Single point of failures are not good. Attractive targets are not good.
Any person with access to the CA key can undetectably fake passports. Direct attacks, virus, misplacing the key by accident (the UK government is good at this!) or bribery are just a few ways of getting the CA key.
- The single CA would need to be trusted by all governments. This is not practical as this means that passports would no longer be a national matter.
- Multiple CA's would not work either. Any country could use its own CA to create a valid passport of any other country. Read this sentence again: Country A can create a passport data set of Country B and sign it with Country A's CA key. The terminal will validate and display the information as data from Country B.This option also multiplies the number of 'juicy' targets. It makes it also more likely for a CA key to leak.
Revocation lists for certificates only work when a leak/loss is detected. In most cases it will not be detected.
So what's the solution? We know that humans are good at Border Control. In the end they protected us well for the last 120 years. We also know that humans are good at pattern matching and image recognition. Humans also do an excellent job 'assessing' the person and not just the passport. Take the human part away and passport security falls apart.
EDITED TO ADD (10/13): More information.
Posted on September 30, 2008 at 12:24 PM • 28 Comments