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App mugger

Marc Sanchez Jun 25, 2012

Some of the biggest brains in tech are focused on trying to figure out how to let people pay for stuff with their phones, and one of the leading implementations comes in the form of phones with near-field communication (NFC) chips. The idea is that if you have one of these phones, you just tap it on a card reader that your local merchant has at the register, and poof, you’re on your way. No more wallet. And your money and credit card numbers are safe thanks to fancy-schmancy encryption technology.

Now along comes a guy named Thomas Skora, a German security researcher who wanted to see if it was possible to, sort of, reverse engineer these NFC chips and turn the phones into card readers. Yup.

Skora built an app that lets you be the card reader, so if you were to bump into someone who had an NFC-enabled phone, you could get their credit card information.

From the New Scientist:

The app, called paycardreader, was removed from the Google Play store [June 21], but Skora has also placed the source code on GitHub, a code-sharing website, and says the app doesn’t actually save the swiped data, it just displays it.

Great. So now not only can’t we have nice things. We can’t even randomly bump into people who also have nice things.

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