[nycbug-talk] RFID passports

Bob Ippolito bob
Fri Oct 22 13:18:14 EDT 2004

On Oct 22, 2004, at 12:59, Jesse Callaway wrote:

> On Oct 22, 2004, at 12:00 PM, Bob Ippolito wrote:
>> On Oct 22, 2004, at 11:22, Jesse Callaway wrote:
>>> On Oct 22, 2004, at 9:23 AM, Dru wrote:
>>>> Here's an interesting piece from the Effector mailing list 
>>>> (www.eff.org):
>>>> ~ New Passports Will Leak Personal Data
>>>> The next generation of US passports will have embedded RFIDs,
>>>> and some reports suggest that the information the chips
>>>> broadcast won't be encrypted.  Meaning anyone with an RFID
>>>> reader could passively scan you, pulling the most intimate
>>>> personal data right out of your pocket.  Unbelievable:
>>>> <http://hasbrouck.org/blog/archives/000434.html>
>>>> Dru
>>> Speaking of which CryptoGram is now RSS as well as the familiar 
>>> monthly email.
>>> <http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-rss.xml>
>>> Time to pull out the collection of anti-static bags and keep the 
>>> shiniest! This works with EZ-Pass, where there is most likely more 
>>> wattage.
>> EZ-Pass uses an active transponder (self-powered, uses a battery) and 
>> runs on a completely different frequency than the kind of passive 
>> transponder (powered by the reader's signal) that would go into a 
>> passport.  The same techniques aren't necessarily going to work.
> I'm certain that if you wrap your passport in foil you'll see no 
> outside EMF inside the little rectangular space. And since you say 
> it's a passive transponder, you shouldn't see much inside of the magic 
> space either. It would need to be some sort of toxic ray in order for 
> dense anti-static bag not to block it.

Well, not knowing what frequency they're using in particular, it's hard 
to say.  "no outside EMF" is definitely not correct for foil.  It will 
*probably* prevent the RFID tag from being read in this case, but 
without knowing the specifics or without having tried it I wouldn't 
assert that it works or not.  I've worked with passive RFID tags that 
can be read from tens of feet away over two years ago.. with current 
technology at a much closer distance it might be able to work through a 
thin layer of foil.


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