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August 5, 2008

Court rules university can publish Oyster crack

NXP Semiconductors has lost a suit to stop Radboud University in the Netherlands from publishing details of how university researchers found a flaw in its Mifare RFID chip and cracked the Oyster card, a smartcard for users of London's public transport system.

By CBR Staff Writer

NXP said publishing such critical information would bring substantial security risks to its clients by helping criminals break into security systems.

Rejecting its claims, the court ruled: The university has every right to publish its findings, and such a publication on the chip’s shortcomings will help in finding appropriate counter measures. Damage to NXP is not the result of the article but the production and sale of a chip with shortcomings.

Christophe Duverne, senior vice president at NXP, said: We opposed the publication to protect our customers. Publication of critical information is different from software hacks for which companies can issue a patch immediately. Disclosing things in detail including the algorithm will not benefit society, but potentially encourage criminals.

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