Misstep 29: Easier Than Cloning People

I’ve talked about bar codes in the past, but usually it was an exposed bar code — not so much about a reader.

Barcodes:

  • Are easily readable and reproducible by machines
  • Are difficult to “rotate”, that is, change them when they are used
  • Contain parity bits to make reading them more consistent when they are dirty, off plane, upside down, or even when somebody plops a logo in the middle of it (in the case of QR Codes)

Both of the above QR codes will take you to my Header Inspector tool. Even though there is clearly a large portion in the middle with the search lens logo graphic.

The photo at the very top of this post shows an unattended gate system that allows a driver the ability to hold a bar code under the red light and obtain access to a neighborhood. If it is successful, the gate will open, allowing the driver to enter.

The Misstep?

It would not be difficult to place a camera of some sort close enough to the unit where the bar codes can be read and duplicated later. Also, it is likely that a gate pass will be left inside of the vehicle, presumably in sight of people walking past the vehicle (who can snap a photo of them). In this case, you could simply walk around the gate — but if you want to get a vehicle in, this gate system isn’t going to do much to stop that.

The Fix?

A system of rolling codes, or at least an RFID or NFC card that doesn’t make it quite as easy to clone from a distance.

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Robert Lerner

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