Home page logo

bugtraq logo Bugtraq mailing list archives

RFID enabled e-passport skimming proof of concept code released (RFIDIOt)
From: Adam Laurie <adam.laurie () thebunker net>
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2006 17:35:43 +0100

The latest version of RFIDIOt, the open-source python library for RFID exploration/manipulation, contains code that implements the ICAO 9303 standard for Machine Readable Travel Documents in the form of a test program called 'mrpkey.py'.

This program will exchange crypto keys with the passport and read and display the contents therein, including the facial image and the personal data printed in the passport. Currently the data read is limited to the following objects:

    Data Group:  61 (EF.DG1 Data Recorded in MRZ)
    Data Group:  75 (EF.DG2 Encoded Identification Features - FACE)

Other Data Groups will be implemented as and when examples come to the author's attention.

The ICAO standard relies on a 'secret' key to protect the RFID chip from casual reading, which is derived from data printed inside the passport. However, this data is also potentially available by other means, so the key for a specific passport could be derived without physical access to the passport. The information required is as follows:

  The Passport number

  The Date Of Birth of the holder

  The Expiry Date of the Passport

(Each of the fields also has a check digit which can be calculated by the software if not otherwise available).

The author has previously shown that this data can be obtained through other channels, such as poorly secured websites, as it is a subset of the data that is required by the US Homeland Security for Advance Passenger Information, and is therefore commonly collected by airlines and other associated organisations.

This article, from the UK national newspaper The Guardian, gives more details of one of the techniques used:


Others have also highlighted the possibility of bruteforcing the keys, given that the components are largely predictable, giving a much smaller keyspace than might otherwise be supposed:


The demonstration code (RFIDIOt.py version 0.1g) can be found here:


The ICAO 9303 standard documents can be found here:


Adam Laurie                         Tel: +44 (0) 1304 814800
The Bunker Secure Hosting Ltd.      Fax: +44 (0) 1304 814899
Ash Radar Station                   http://www.thebunker.net
Marshborough Road
Sandwich                            mailto:adam () thebunker net
CT13 0PL
UNITED KINGDOM                      PGP key on keyservers

  By Date           By Thread  

Current thread:
  • RFID enabled e-passport skimming proof of concept code released (RFIDIOt) Adam Laurie (Oct 27)
[ Nmap | Sec Tools | Mailing Lists | Site News | About/Contact | Advertising | Privacy ]