Mouse Trail

LAS VEGAS, Nevada, Aug 6, 2006 (AFP) – High-tech passports touted as advances in national security can be spied on remotely and their identifying radio signals cloned, computers hackers were shown at a conference ending Sunday. Radio frequency identification technology, referred to as RFID, used in cash cards and passports, can be copied, blocked or imitated, said Melanie Rieback, a privacy researcher at Vrije University in the Netherlands.

Rieback demonstrated a device she and colleagues at Vrije built to hijack the RFID signals that manufacturers have touted as unreadable by anything other than proprietary scanners.

“I spend most of my time making the RFID industry’s life miserable,” the doctorate student told AFP. “I am not anti-RFID. It has the potential to make people’s lives easier, but it needs to be used responsibly.”

Rieback and university compatriots expected to have a reliable portable version of their device, RFID Guardian, finished in six months and “had no plans to immediately mass-produce these things.”

A cheer rose from the legion of hackers in the conference room when Rieback announced that the schematics and the computer codes for the device would be made public.

“The industry and governmen