Thieves could exploit encryption vulnerabilities, computer scientists warn
A popular radio-frequency ID system that is used to deter car thefts and as a convenience device for the purchase of gasoline can be defeated with low-cost technology, computer scientists from The Johns Hopkins University and RSA Laboratories have determined.
Their findings, described in a new research paper, indicate that the encryption in RFID microchips in some newer car keys and wireless payment tags may not keep thieves at bay. Using a relatively inexpensive electronic device, criminals could wirelessly probe a car key tag or payment tag in close proximity, and then use the information obtained from the probe to crack the secret cryptographic key on the tag, the scientists said. By obtaining this key, lawbreakers could more easily circumvent the auto theft prevention system in that person’s car or potentially charge their own gasoline purchases to the tag owner’s account.
The researchers uncovered the vulnerability while studying the Texas Instruments Registration and Identification System, a low-power radio-frequency security system used worldwide. The researchers said that more than 150 million of these transponders are embedded in keys for newer vehicles built by at least three leading manufacturers. The transponders are also inside more than 6 million key chain tags used for wireless gasoline purchases. The computer security researchers discovered a way that tech-savvy thieves can get around the encryption safeguards in these systems.
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The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
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Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
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Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
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The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
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