Ski industry deployment and use of RFID. Hacking and cloning
Aspen Ski Company integrated RFID technology into ski season passes in 2008-09. According a recent article in Computer World magazine, “The company will also extend the RFID program so that ski passes can be used as stored-value cards in any of its retail shops and restaurants, says Paul Major, managing director of technology for Aspen Ski Co. The expanded use of RFID technologies “helps us to identify our truly loyal customers,” says Major.”
As profits get squeezed in the current economy, resorts (businesses) will be looking for additional or increasing revenue sources and/or lowering of expenses. As I have been recently reminded, that is the primary objective. If the convenience of stored-value on RFID makes it easier for a guest to buy, and buy more frequently, then that is what the resort will do.
I believe integrating more information on the RFID chip is the direction the industry will travel. Instead of the magnetic strips on the back of cards, resorts will move toward putting “Stored value” on RFID cards. We shall be told that the systems are “encrypted and safe”, there will be many who blindly believe this. However, this will invite hackers and thieves to “go where the money is”. This is not paranoia, this is reality.
The MBTA subway system was hacked a few years back by MIT students. RFID, Magstrips, and stored-value fare cards systems were all hacked. The MBTA tried to silence the data as they want to keep the pubic ignorant of the situation. The MIT students released a slide show “Anatomy of a Subway Hack”
As you travel to a resort which incorporates RFID in their lift passes, you may not know what information is stored on the RFID chip in your pass or how it is encrypted, nor what type of back office safety systems the resort has in place. But one thing you CAN do is to use a Ski Pass Defender to block RFID intrusion and prevent cloning of your pass. Push the clip to allow it to scan (even through clothing), and let it go for protection.
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