June 2008 Archives

It appears that security researchers at Radboud University in Nijmegen, in the Netherlands, have extended their previous demonstration of the flaws in their own Phillips MiFare based travel cards, to the similar system used in the London Oyster Card.

See the reports by ZDnet: and the translation of a report about the researchers' evidence to the Netherlands Parliament regarding such transport card vulnerabilities:

They can reportedly use an Oyster Card, and then re-set the monetary balance, something which shows that the system is possibly vulnerable to fraud.

Transport for London claim that they would detect such a scam within 24 hours and so it would only be limited one day's free travel.

However, this assumes that the Dutch researchers, or any criminals exploiting the same vulnerabilities, are using are not spoofing or re-programming the Oyster card's serial number every day, as well as re-setting the monetary credit balance, in which case, this will not be picked up via a nightly accounting reconciliation subroutine on the central database.

If randomly chosen, or specifically targeted Oyster card serial numbers were to be re-programmed, then the Transport for London / TranSys consortium anti-fraud routines could be abused to create a Denial of Service attack on random innocent travellers or specific targets.

More worryingly, it appears that they can also cause a software malfunction in the Tube Gates, which are then jammed shut, after their Denial of Service attack presumably sends the wrong sort of code to the system.

At busy stations during the rush hour, this sort of Denial of Service attack could cause a lot of misery, and could potentially put lives at risk, especially at those stations which have Oyster card barriers very close to the up escalators, where there is a risk of people get trampled by a panicked crowd.

Transport for London must immediately ensure that Tube gates cannot be jammed shut by such a software malfunction. This is a safety issue, and , as such, must be given a far higher priority than any anti-fraud measures.

Transport for London need to actually publicly demonstrate that they have responded properly, to make such potential attacks impossible, and not just issue public relations spin that claim that there is no real problem.

Boris Johnson has now resigned his seat as Member of Parliament for Henley on Thames, not through the mechanism of the Chlitern Hundreds, but through that of the Manor of Northstead ("The position of Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead is now used as a procedural device to effect resignation from the House of Commons, since British MPs are not permitted simply to resign their seat. Under the Act of Settlement, any Member of Parliament accepting an office of profit under the Crown must give up his or her seat.")

HM Treasury Press Release:


04 June 2008
Manor of Northstead

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has today appointed Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson to be Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead.

So, bearing in mind possible party political considerations regarding the timing of the by-election, Boris Johnson has resigned his seat as an MP one month after being elected Mayor of London.

This contrasts very favourably with Ken Livingstone, who clung on to his seat as MP for Brent East, "double dipping" from the public purse for over a year after being elected as Mayor of London for the first time ion 4th May 2000. He only left when Parliament was dissolved on 14th May 2001, in preparation for the June 2001 General Election.

The Daily Mail website has some photos of Saturday night's utterly predictable "Last Orders" alcoholic binge on the the Tube.before Boris Johnson's ban on drinking alcohol came into force.

Pictured: Chaotic scenes as alcohol-fuelled Facebook party to mark the end of drinking on the tube ends in violence

Many began fighting and vomiting, seven Tube staff and two police officers were assaulted, six Underground stations had to be closed and several trains were taken out of service after party-goers began smashing them up.

Police made 17 arrests

Apart from the extra crowds caused by closing the 6 Tube stations, how was this worse than a typical Saturday night, with say, crowds of football supporters roaming the the Tube ?

The only difference was that the Police were actually on the spot, instead of hiding away somewhere, as they normally are.

The problem with alcohol on public transport is not so much what goes on in central London, but what happens on the last bus or tube or national rail train home on a Friday or Saturday night, when the extra alcohol being consumed in transit , in addition to that which people who have been drinking all evening, kicks in.

There are usually no British Transport police riding such tubes, buses or trains .out into to the suburbs, and CCTV does absolutely nothing to deter drunken violent or anti-social behavior.

We will wait and see how this new policy will actually be enforced over the next few weeks and months.

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