White Hat Hacker Cracks UK ID Card In 12 Minutes

The reputation of the Home Office was left in tatters as a national newspaper enlisted the help of a security researcher to make a clone of a genuine card and change the information on it.

The Dailymail seeked the expertise of Adam Laurie. He made an exact carbon copy of a sample card - obtained from a foreign student - using nothing more than a mobile phone with chip reading capabilities and a laptop, the grand total of the hardware being around £500.

More worrying though is the fact that it took a mere 12 minutes for Laurie to complete the operation. He succeeded in altering the person's name, any physical data, fingerprints as well as switching the “not entitled to benefits” option to “entitled to benefits".

He also added a message on the card asking the police to shoot on sight because the cardholder is a terrorist. The Home Office responded to the story by saying that the "story is rubbish. We are satisfied that the personal data on the chip cannot be changed or modified, and there is no evidence this has happened".

Laurie is a non-executive director of The Bunker and a freelance security consultant and also helps maintain Apache-SSL so he's pretty much clued up. He also came up with "an open source python library for exploring RFID devices" called RFIDIOt.

He told Tom Espiner of ZDNet that curiously, the Home Office turned down his offers to demonstrate how easy it was to replicate, clone and modify a UK Identity card.

More than 50,000 of these cards - which were officially unveiled on July 30th - have already been issued to foreign nationals and students living in the UK and according to the Government, the ID Card is supposed to be "unforgeable".

Back in April, former home secretary, David Blunkett urged the government to call off plans to introduce identity cards, more than eight years after he first brought forward the idea; this ultimately gave rise to the £5.4 billion ID card scheme.

The Tories have already confirmed that they will can the project if they come to power after the next General election in 2011.