AOH :: IS1516.HTM

With lawsuit settled, hackers now working with MBTA

With lawsuit settled, hackers now working with MBTA
With lawsuit settled, hackers now working with MBTA 

By Robert McMillan
December 22, 2008

Three Massachusetts Institute of Technology students who were sued 
earlier this year by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) said 
Monday that they are now working to make the Boston transit system more 

The announcement brings to a close a high profile case that pitted the 
rights of security researchers to freely discuss their findings against 
the concerns of one of the country's largest transit systems, which 
worried that this type of information could lead to widespread ticket 
fraud. "I'm really glad to have it behind me. I think this is really 
what should have happened from the start," said Zack Anderson, one of 
the students sued by the MBTA.

Anderson, along with Russell "RJ" Ryan and Alessandro Chiesa, was 
prevented from giving a talk entitled "The Anatomy of a Subway Hack: 
Breaking Crypto RFIDs & Magstripes of Ticketing Systems" at the Defcon 
hacker conference last August.

The students had planned to show that they had reverse engineered the 
MBTA's CharlieTicket magnetic stripe tickets and CharlieCard smartcards. 
The CharlieCard uses the same Mifare Classic RFID (radio frequency 
identification) technology that was cracked earlier this year by 
security researchers.

The MBTA had argued that the presentation could have caused "significant 
damage" to the transit system, but the students had said that they had 
no intention of releasing key pieces of information that would have 
allowed people to hack the system.


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