Secure Electronic Passports Can Be Cloned Easily Warns Dutch Researcher

A Security Researcher from the University of Amsterdam has managed to develop a fail-safe method of reading, duplicating and altering chips on the so called safe biometric passports

He produced fake passports which were regarded as genuine when they were used at Airport terminals.

Working in tandem with The Times newspaper, Mr Van Beek used a home-brewed software application together with a few computer parts which can be bought online for less than £100. Most worrying, it took the researcher less than one hour to clone and falsify information on two passport chips.

He superimposed the picture of Al-Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden, on the body of a baby and produced a passport for a guy called Elvis Presley (ed : The King is really back then?)

Only 45 countries worldwide have rolled out electronic or e-passports and a mere 10 of them have signed up for a Public Key Directory code system with only half of them actually using it.

This raises serious fears about the viability of Biometric passports which have been hailed as the next step in security by the US after the 9/11 attacks and tens of millions of e-passports, which contains an antenna and a RFID (Radio Frequency ID) chip, have been issued already.

Furthermore, countries generally regarded as rogue could possibly alter passport contents and provide them to terrorists or criminal groups.

“We’re not claiming that terrorists are able to do this to all passports today or that they will be able to do it tomorrow,” Mr van Beek argued. “But it does raise concerns over security that need to be addressed in a more public and open way.”