It’s going to take much more than what the UK Home Office originally planned, to make their ID cards..foolproof. The Daily Mail contracts an expert to duplicate one of the 51,000 ID cards issued by the Home Office to foreign nationals currently working or studying in Britain.
But as you might expect from the headlines of this post, the expert does the forgery within a few minutes, leaving the journalist dumb struck as to how simple (if you know how to) it was for the man to circumvent all of the safeguards embedded into the micro chip.
So if you think that your government can protect you as well as keep illegals out by just issuing an ID card, think again. Any terrorist can obtain a cloned copy from individuals like Adam Laurie, if they have enough money and contacts. KGS
Adam Laurie is no ordinary hacker. In the world of computing, he is considered a genius – a man whose talents are used by government departments and blue-chip companies to guard against terrorists and cyber-criminals.
But even by his standards, what he is about to demonstrate is mind-boggling – and deeply disturbing.
Laurie is holding one of 51,000 ID cards issued by the Home Office to foreign nationals currently working or studying in Britain.
It is similar to the ID card for British citizens unveiled last week by Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, as part of the Government’s ongoing National Identity Scheme.
Embedded inside the card for foreigners is a microchip with the details of its bearer held in electronic form: name, date of birth, physical characteristics, fingerprints and so on, together with other information such as immigration status and whether the holder is entitled to State benefits.
This chip is the vital security measure that, so the Government believes, will make identity cards ‘unforgeable’.
But as I watch, Laurie picks up a mobile phone and, using just the handset and a laptop computer, electronically copies the ID card microchip and all its information in a matter of minutes.
He then creates a cloned card, and with a little help from another technology expert, he changes all the information the card contains – the physical details of the bearer, name, fingerprints and so on. And he doesn’t stop there.
With a few more keystrokes on his computer, Laurie changes the cloned card so that whereas the original card holder was not entitled to benefits, the cloned chip now reads ‘Entitled to benefits’.
As a chilling twist, he adds a message that would be visible to any police officer or security official who scanned the card: ‘I am a terrorist – shoot on sight.’
And all of this has been done in such a way as to fool the electronic readers intended to check the ID card’s authenticity. It is, quite simply, a terrifying achievement.
For the implications of what he has demonstrated could scarcely be more serious. Laurie’s fake card could be used to fool banks, commit fraud and maybe even illegally claim benefits or free NHS care.
More disturbing still, it could be used to cover the tracks of terrorists planning atrocities on British or foreign soil. By any sensible measure, his demonstration, as part of a special Mail investigation, should be the final nail in the coffin of the Government’s £5.4-billion ID scheme.
The card unveiled by the Home Secretary will not hit the streets until the end of this year, so Laurie has not had the chance to test the precise design.
But according to the UK Identity And Passport Service, it is essentially the same and potentially just as vulnerable as the Home Office’s ‘foreign nationals’ card we tested.
‘It is the same technology,’ a spokesman told me. ‘We’re not running two different systems. It is just the facade that is different.’
Read it all. KGS