Bump and clone: Do ID badges put college campuses at risk?

Bump and clone: Do ID badges put college campuses at risk?

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Lots of people wear ID badges to work now, but often they carry more than just a name and a picture.  On college campuses, those IDs get you into classrooms, but it's also like a bank.  You can pay for your meals through that card.

They're called proximity cards because you just wave them near a card reader and it picks up the card's radio signal.  It's convenient for you, but the FOX 5 I-Team discovered the signal that's floating out there is easy for anybody to pick up.  

A maker of some of those cards has sent out a warning about something called "bump and clone."  Literally, you can just bump someone and grab their personal information from their badge.   The I-Team wanted to how easy or difficult that would be, so we went to Georgia Tech's campus, where their cards are the key to just about everything-- even their dorms.  

Nearly every entrance on the Georgia Tech campus requires a proximity card to get in.

Crazy is what junior Mark Sennett says after he sees what we were able to do with his campus ID called the BuzzCard.  While it was still in his pocket, in a split second, we lifted his information and used it to open a campus gate.

Walt Augustinowicz is CEO of Identity Stronghold, a company that sells sleeves that block the ability for cards to be cloned.  He says that the BuzzCard has a chip inside it that sends your personal information to another spot via radio frequency.  It's convenient, but security pays a price.

"These proximity cards that they use at a lot of colleges are totally cloneable," said Augustinowicz.  

When the radio signal floats from one place to the next, it's wide open for electronic pick pocketing.   

It wasn't a fluke.  We did it again and again and again.   With equipment that cost just a few hundred bucks, our expert did this with just an antenna and a card reader.  That's it.  

"There wasn't any programming on my part involved with doing this," said Augustinowicz.

No one at Georgia Tech would go on camera to discuss the vulnerabilities of the BuzzCard.  In an email, school officials said they've been using the card for 10 years and "there have been no reports of malicious use."

"To be fair, it's not just Georgia Tech," said Augustinowicz.  "There's lots of colleges. There's lots of police stations. There's lots of secure buildings all over the country that use this same card."

Georgia Tech isn't the only public state university to use these proximity cards.  Both Georgia Southern and Kennesaw State use proximity cards for dorm access.  UGA uses the proximity card, but only to access it's higher security buildings.

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