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Personal Data Hacked from New German ID Cards Live on Public TV

an example of the new german id cards
The same, privacy-conscious German government that threatened Google with legal action over its "invasive" Street View feature is now facing its very own security crisis, after a group of hackers recently demonstrated how to easily extract private information from government-issued ID cards. The hackers, who are part of the so-called 'Chaos Computer Club,' recently appeared on the German TV show 'Plusminus' to show the world how easily data can be harvested from the cards. As the Local reports, a person's fingerprints and unique six-digit PIN code can both be gathered from the cards, with the help of an at-home card scanner that the German government will begin distributing soon.

The at-home scanners were originally intended to allow Germans to more easily process their personal information for business or online shopping. Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, however, insists that there isn't an immediately apparent reason to take corrective action. The Federal Office for Information Security, moreover, firmly defended the security of the RFID chips implanted within the ID cards, claiming that both the chip and the unique PIN offer a "significant security improvement compared to today's standard process of user name and password." That may very well be true, but the fact that a group of hackers managed to access sensitive personal information with government-issued devices probably won't sit well with a population that's already proven to be particularly paranoid when it comes to privacy rights.

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