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Jonathan Schwartz @ has an article that will be making the rounds quite a bit regarding unencrypted information on some of the new credit cards. I fully expect our Makers to make a text to speech version that screams out names as people walk by –

“They call it the “Johnny Carson attack,” for his comic pose as a psychic divining the contents of an envelope. Tom Heydt-Benjamin tapped an envelope against a black plastic box connected to his computer. Within moments, the screen showed a garbled string of characters that included this: fu/kevine, along with some numbers. Heydt-Benjamin then ripped open the envelope. Inside was a credit card, fresh from the issuing bank. The card bore the name of Kevin E. Fu, a computer science professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who was standing nearby. The card number and expiration date matched those numbers on the screen. “ Thanks Sdwarf! – Link.


  • No-Swipe Credit Card No Problem For Thieves – Link.
  • Researchers See Privacy Pitfalls in No-Swipe Credit Cards” – Link.
  • Vulnerabilities in First-Generation RFID-enabled Credit Cards – Link.
  • RFID Payment Card Vulnerabilities Technical Report – Link.

RFID projects, readers, hacks and more:

  • DEFCON RFID World record attempt… – Link.
  • Interview with RFID implanter – Link.
  • RFID Robot – Link.
  • RFID door – Link.
  • RFID enabled flame shooting trampoline – Link.
  • MAKE VIDEO PODCAST – Getting “Chipped” – Link.
  • HOW TO – Homemade RFID reader – Link.
  • HOW TO – Make a RFID zapper – Link.
  • DIY RFID-Zapper… – Link.

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From the pages of MAKE:

Phillip Torrone

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.

2 Responses to Fun with RFID aka Researchers see privacy pitfalls in no-swipe credit cards

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  1. on said:

    RE: “Build this kit” Illustration…

    I’m almost positive the Parallax RFID reader sends serial data in TTL level output, so you can’t directly connect it to the computer as shown above.

    I can confirm that at least the CrystalFontz displays have solderable jumpers for inverted TTL that allow direct connection to the Parallax reader and a 5vdc source.

  2. Oracle1729 on said:

    It looks like the “RS232 Line Driver” in the schematic above is intended to be a level converter from TTL to RS232 levels, so he’s not connecting it directly above.

    You are right though that it can’t connect directly to the computer without a level converter.

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