E-tales: Gotta pick a pocket or two...

'All I need to do is get near your ass with my reader,' claims RFID hacker

No milk today

You have to hand it to the academic world — it does like to stay up-to-the-minute. Apparently, up at Auckland uni they’re getting ready for what, in the UK, used to be called the “milk round”, when ICT companies chat-up promising students with a view to a future working relationship. Only now would-be techies are invited to an evening of “ICT speed-dating”.

Sponsored by the Wireless and Broadband Forum, the romantic evening is set for April 1 — is Fools Day such a great idea?

“Find the qualified worker of your dreams and cut out the middle man,” WBF enthuses. “This is a chance for you to speak directly to the workers who are seeking full-time employment.”

Hands-not-so-free

One-touch access on a cellphone has its disadvantages as a Wellington IT executive recently found out. His new $800 Nokia E61i displayed unwanted hands-free capability when it went off in his pocket, connecting him immediately to Vodafone’s internet gateway. He only found out when he got a bill for $140 — for nearly 14MB of usage at $10 a MB.

Second-world internet

What is it about New Zealand and email problems? There one e-taler was gnashing their teeth early last week that an email they were expecting via Xtra never arrived — even though the sender said it had definitely been sent at her end.

So, the e-taler visited geekzone.co.nz, to check out any discussion about the problem, and found that ClearNet has also been down.

One commentator said he/she was now “sniffing the glue holding the internet together”.

E-tales isn’t surprised TUANZ is using the forthcoming election to bash the pollies’ ears about improving telco services.

Women and PCs converge

And they say it’s women that get cranky as they get older… one of our e-talers reports that a government department IT boss got himself a brand-new PC. Enjoying the Microsoft software experience, he grumbled to our e-taler: “It reminds me of my wife. It’s always trying to tell me what to do.”

E-tales isn’t surprised he prefers to remain nameless.

MacBook Air proves too airy

This one made us smile queasily down here at E-tales HQ. Apparently, Newsweek’s Stephen Levy, the mag’s tech columnist, is a messy sort who piles up so many newspapers etc, etc that even he — mess machine that he admits he is — sometimes gathers up the whole tottering mass and chucks it in the rubbish. Only this one time, the pile included his new super-thin, super-light MacBook Air.

Actually, the bereft one accuses his wife of the heinous act. As you would. She vehemently denies it, of course. Magnanimously, Levy admits to being so slobby that he does, occasionally, do the big chuck-out.

E-tales also liked the comments on the tech gossip rag Valleywag, with one chap commenting that he wouldn’t be letting Levy anywhere near his nice new Acer with a coffee cup any time soon.

Another wittily opined: “Guess his wife didn’t like the newer, thinner model”.

Gotta pick a pocket or two...

Forget about sticking your hand in someone’s pocket, just swipe a handheld credit card reader past your target’s bulging wallet-containing back pocket and, “hey presto”, there’s all the info you need downloaded from his RFID credit card. Now you can go shopping big-time on the internet.

So says Pablos Holman — “all I need to do is get near your ass with my reader.” Hacker Holman recently demonstrated the new-style thieving technique on Boing Boing television, in a bid to show just how insecure RFID is.

Holman showed off his Artful Dodger skills as an example of just how easy it is to hack RFID-enabled credit cards — traditional credit cards are safe as all the vital information is locked up back at the bank, but with these new babies it’s all there on the card…

The solution? An “unreadable” stainless steel wallet or, alternatively, just say “no” to RFID.

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