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Can I Hack It

This Is How Easy It Is to Hack a Passport or a Credit Card

Hacker Adam Laurie, aka Major Malfunction, shares decades of hacking wisdom from his British country home.

MOTHERBOARD STAFF

MOTHERBOARD STAFF

Anything with a chip in it is vulnerable to attack. Your contactless credit card, your office key card, your passport—as more of our most valuable possessions get an electronic component, more opportunities open up to hackers.

In the third episode of Can I Hack It?, made possible by Mr Robot on Amazon Prime, we visit Adam Laurie, better known by his hacker name Major Malfunction.

Laurie specialises in hacking devices that use RFID, or radio frequency identification. He's a white hat researcher who finds ways to hack into products in order to test their security, and he also runs the London chapter of the Defcon hacking community.

Laurie's home isn't exactly what you'd expect a hacker's digs to look like: it's a huge old house in the middle of the British countryside. Through a maze of corridors we reach his office, where he tinkers with everything from TV sets to new internet-of-things devices (when he's not indulging his other hobby: guns).

He tells us how hacking has changed over the decades and demonstrates how easy it is to pull information from a contactless card or clone a passport using equipment that's now available to any bedroom hacker.

With hacking becoming more accessible, the community has grown, and the public perception of it has also changed to become more accepting of those who hack in order to discover vulnerabilities rather than exploit them.

Laurie promises he's deleted the information he hacked from us.