This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse this site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Find out more.X

Oyster card hackers may have their research blocked

Share this article:
Dutch academics who visited London to break the cryptography behind the Oyster card may have their work on the subject blocked by the country's Government.

Dutch secretary of state Tineke Huizinga urged Bart Jacobs and Wouter Teepe not to publish any secrets of their hack that may lead to smartcard systems being abused.

The duo, from Radboud University in Nijmegen, had planned to publish a paper on the subject at the Esorics security conference in October.

The Dutch Government was going to introduce a smartcard payments system based on the same chip as Oyster, called Mifare. But it postponed the 1bn euro project earlier this year after Jacobs and Teepe revealed they could carry out the hack.

Jacobs defended his research. Quoted in the Dutch ICT publication WebWereld, he said he was providing mathematical analysis and not attack code. "It requires a lot of expert work to transform the analysis from the Esorics paper into a working device for performing attacks on card installations," he said.

He added that other groups may have written tools to carry out such an attack and distributed them on the internet. He could offer no additional comment at the time of writing.

Academics from University College London have also broken the Mifare cipher. UCL's Nicolas Courtois said he could carry out his attack in just 12 seconds.

Transport for London maintains that making a clone of an Oyster card is illegal.
Share this article:

SC webcasts on demand

This is how to secure data in the cloud


Exclusive video webcast & Q&A sponsored by Vormetric


As enterprises look to take advantage of the cloud, they need to understand the importance of safeguarding their confidential and sensitive data in cloud environments. With the appropriate security safeguards, such as fine-grained access policies, a move to the cloud is as, or more, secure than an on-premise data storage.


View the webcast here to find out more

More in News

Shellshock: Millions of servers under attack

Shellshock: Millions of servers under attack

In the wake of Shellshock, end-users and security managers race to patch web servers and desktops, but may be forgetting vulnerable embedded devices.

Londoners agree to give child away in return for free WiFi

Londoners agree to give child away in return ...

Hundreds trapped and exposed by fake 'poisoned' WiFi hotspot.

Cybercrime-as-a-service the new criminal business model

Cybercrime-as-a-service the new criminal business model

A new report from Europol's European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) reveals that cybercrime is being increasingly commercialised, and by criminals who use legitimate services to hide their activities.