Sandeep Venugopal’s Weblog

August 11, 2008

MIT students hacked subway card: free rides!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandeep @ 7:57 pm
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The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has obtained a temporary restraining order barring three Massachusetts Institute of Technology students from showing what they claim is a way to get “free subway rides for life. ”The 10-day injunction, ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock, prohibited Zack Anderson, R.J. Ryan and Allessandro Chiesa from revealing what they claim are the vulnerabilities of the MBTA’s fare card. The students claimed they had hacked the security features of the computerized “Charlie Card” and were scheduled to present their findings Sunday in Las Vegas at computer hacking conference.

“The Anatomy of a Subway Hack,” is the description of their presentation on the DEFCON 16 conference Web site.“In this talk we go over weaknesses in common subway fare collection systems. We focus on the Boston T subway, and we present several attacks to completely break the Charlie Card,” the listing read. The DEFCON 16 conference annually brings thousands of sophisticated hackers and technology security experts together. “If what the MIT undergrads claim in their public announcements is true, public disclosure of the security flaws – before the MBTA and its system vendors have an opportunity to correct the flaws – will cause significant damage to the MBTA’s transit system,” MBTA attorneys wrote in their motion for the restraining order. Anderson said the students never planned to show the public how to hack into the MBTA fare system.

Source: Boston Channel, Martin

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