Smart-card hackers expose dumb flaws
College students crack a relatively simple code in frequently used access technology to expose major security weakness.
Three Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) students hacked into Boston’s mass transit system earlier this year. Once in the system, they cracked the flimsy code guarding the data, enabling users to add money to fare cards without paying a penny. The act adds up to more than a prank—it exposes the inherent weakness in a security technology used in door-swipe badges, fare cards, and other security and access systems worldwide.
In 2006, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) spent nearly $200 million upgrading its fare collection system. Because the Mifare Classic chip the new system uses a quickly crackable cipher (as demonstrated by the MIT students), MBTA officials are faced with the possibility of having to scrap that system and spend yet more revenue on a new, better-guarded technology.
Other departments have responded to the exposed security flaw. In the United Kingdom, London Underground officials installed a stopgap measure to secure the system while a permanent upgrade is being developed. In the Netherlands, government officials have placed security guards at doorways once guarded only by smart cards.
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Annual Salary Survey
Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.
There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.
But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.
Read more: 2015 Salary Survey