Cracked 125kHz Access Control Migration Guide

By Brian Rhodes, Published May 19, 2017, 12:29am EDT

Despite being one of the most popular credentials, 125 kHz credentials are easily copied and insecure as we showed in our test results, video embedded below:

However, changing to more secure credentials is not always a clear path, and doing it can cost thousands of dollars for even smaller systems.

In this guide, we cover the most common migration paths and examine the pros and cons of each, so you can help choose the best path forward.

This guide covers:

  • The 3 Most Common Migration Paths
  • Pros & Cons of Each Method
  • Biometrics Option
  • HID Global Formats More Costly
  • 13.56 MHz Read Ranges Shorter
  • Changeover Cost Is The Biggest Factor

The ***** **** 

*** **** ***** ** the *******: *** **** common *** *** **** formats **** ** ****** are ********** ***********, ** copying **** ** **** a ****** ** * few ******* *** ***** a *** *******. ***** the **** ****** ** ***** insecure credentials ** ******** ***, the **** **** ******* are **** ** ***** your ******** ********** ** a **** ***** *********.

Three ********* *****

*** ******** ** ***************: stop ***** *** *** credentials.  ***** **** *****, higher ********* ******** ******* encryption *** ********* ******* of **** ******* ***** resulting ** ***** ********* changes ***** **** * logical ***********.

*******, ***** *** * number ** ******* *** migrating *******, **** **** varying ***** *** ********* for ********:

  • ****** ***** & ******* Immediately
  • ******* *****-******** *******, ********* Replace *****
  • ******* ******** *******, ********* Replace *****

*****, ** ******* **** method ** ***** *** weigh *** **** **. cons ** **** *********** which **** ** **** for ******** *******.

HID Global ******* **** ******

*** *** ************* **** migrating **** **** ****** formats ** ******** ***** 13.56MHz ****** ****** ** adopted ** *** *****?  The *** **** ****** options ***** **** **** two ********* *******:

** *******, *** ****** iClass ** **** ********* on * ***-****** *** per-credential ***** ******** ** MIFARE/DESFIRE. *** ****** ** the **** ********** ** largely *** ** *********, as *** *** ******* is ********, ** *** manufactured ********, ** *** or ***** ****** **** Abloy.  ** ********, *** non-HID ******* *** '**** use' *** *********** **** for *** ************ ** build ******* ******* **** with ** ********* ****.

*** ****** ******* ********** between ****** ****** ******* varies ***** ** ********** part *******, *** *** cost ********** ********* ****** 10% - **% **** for *** *** ********. However, ********** ** ***** America, *******, *******/******* *******, and ******* ************ *** be ****** *** *** who ******* *********** ****** share ** **** ******. Elsewhere ** *** *****, NXP-based ******* *** ** more *******, *** *******/******* may ** **** *********. 

*** ******** ******** ******* the *** *******, *** our: *** ** *** *********** ****.

13.56 *** **** ****** *******

**** ** *** *** only ********** ******* ***********. Maximum **** ***** ****** also ** ************* *********, with *** ***** ********* 125kHz ****** ******** ****** distances. ***** *** ******* range ** *** * typical ****** *** **** mount ** ******* ***** applications ***** ***** **** less **** * ****** away **** *** ******, using **** ********* **.***** formats ****** **** ** ranges ****** *** ******* garage ** ******* **** applications.

*** *******, **** *** *** **** ***** readers***** ** ** **" with ******** *** ******* credentials, *** *******.** *** **************** ***** **" *** have ********* *** ** sell ********** *** **************** *** ****** ****** instead *** **** ***********.

Pros & **** ** ****

******** **** *** ***** options, *** **** ****** and ******* *** ******* cost *** ****** ****** method ** ********* *********** of **** *** *** readers *** **** *****, while *** ***** ********* but *********** **** *** most ********** ****** ** simply ******** * **.** MHz ****** ***** ******** units *** ***** ******** new ***** ** ***** as ******.

*** **** *** ** low ****, ********** ******** improvement, *** *** ****** impact ** ** *** a *********** ****** **** can **** ******** **** frequencies *** *******, ***** called '*****-********' *******.  **** chart ***** *** *****-****:

** *** ******** *****, we ******** **** **** in *****.

One: ******* *** ***** & ******* ***********

**** ********* **** ** the **** ******, *** it ****** *** ******** gap *** ******* ** wholesale *********** ** *** system ******* *** ***** at ****. *********** ********** use ** *** *** credentials ***** **** *** exploit **** **********, *** such * ******* **** requires **** ********* ****** and ******* ************ ** replacing ******** *** *** issued *********** **** *** replacement **.** *** *****.

** *******, * ****** 13.56 *** ****** *** cost $*** - $*** and * ****** **** often ***** $* - $7 ****** ********** ************, configuration, *** **** ******** costs, ** **** * smaller ****** **** **** than * ***** *** 50 ***** *** *** into *** ********* ** dollars, *** ***** **********/ multi-site ******* *** **** multiple **** ** *********.

** ******** ** *** cost, ********* ******** *** the ******* ***** ******** credentials *** *** *****, so ******* *** ******** a ******* ***** ***** preparing *** ******* *** credentials **********. *** ****-***** applications *** **** ** be **-********** ********.

** * ******, *** 'replace ********** ** ****' migration ** ********* **** used ** ******* ******* where *** **** *** logistic ****** *** *****.

Two: ******* *****-******** *******, ********* ******* *****

**** ********* **** ** often *** *** ****, but ***** *** ******** can ***** ** *********. Like *** ***** ******, option *** ******** ********* replacement ** *** ******* to * *** ****** type ********** **** *********** at ****.  ***** ****** 'multiclass' ** '***************' *******, these ***** *** **** either ********** ********* *** multiple *******.

***** **** **** ** reader ***** **** ****** credentials *** ** ******** on * ******* ***** rather **** *** ** once, ***** ******** * big ****** *** *** logistics ******* ** *********** credentials ** * ********** schedule.

***** *** **** ** these ******* ** ***** higher ** * ***-**** basis ******** ** * single ********** **.** ***-**** unit, *** ******* ** modest ** **% - 15%.  *** ***** ********** of ********* ******* *** still **** *********, *** spreading *** *** ******* of ********* ********** ***********, even ** *** **** of ********** ******** *** kHz ******* *** ****** or ***** ****, ** acceptable *** **** ******** managers.

Three: ******* **** *******, ********* ******* *****

*** ***** ****** ** often *** ***** *********, but ******** *********** *********, careful ****** ********, *** often ******* ******** ***** used: ******* * *** reader **** ** *** old ***.

**** ** ******-**** ******* is ***** **** **** multi-function/multiclass *****, *** **** can ** ********* ******* logistical ********** ** *** existing ******* *** ***********.

*******, ********** *********** ******* near **** *****, **** when **** *** ********* frequencies, *** ****** **** range *********** ** **** unit. ********* ** ***** do *** ****** **** other *** ** ********* interfere **** **** ***** is ***** * ***** trial ********. 

** *********** ** *** an *****, ********** *** very **** ***** ** be.  ******** ********** ******* side ** **** ***** creates ** ********* ***** and ***** ***, ******** 125 *** *** *** 13.56 *** ******:

********, **** ********** ******** may *** ******* **** than *** ****** *****, and ********, ***********, *** perhaps **** ********** ********* of *** ****** *** be ********.

*******, *** ******* ** this ****** *** ***** smallest ** ** ***** factors ********** **** ****** installation, *** ********* ** new *********** *** ** done **** ** ***** urgency, **** ******** **** is ****** ********** ** continuing ** *** *** kHz **********.

Considering ********** *******

*** **** *******, *** opportunity ** ******* *** consider ***** ********** ***** ********, like **********.  ***** *** cost ** ******, ****, and **** ******** **** decreased **** *** **** decade, *** **** ** those ****** ***** *** typically **** **** **.** MHz ************, *** **** often ******* *********** ******* for **** ********** *** user ******** ** *** to ******** *** *** new *******.

***** **** ***** *********** 'soft *****', ***** *** often *********** ** *********** issues **** ********** ***** transitions **** ** ******* or ****** ************, ******* perimeter ******** ******* ** bad ******* (*** **** clothing ******** **** ******), and ** **** ************* additional *********** **.** *** credentials *** ******* *** implemented ** ******* ***** regardless. 

******* ** *** **** cost *** ********* *********** issues, ********* **** *** kHz ** ********** ** uncommon, ******** ********* ******** of ***** *********** ****** a **** ******** ****** against ****** ******* ** credential ******.

Changes **** *****

** *** *** *** smallest ****** *******, ******** cost ********* ****** *** fast ********* *******. *** users *** ******** ******** often *** ****** ** weigh *** **** ** 125 *** ******** ******* the **** ** ********* from **.

*** **** *****, *** risk *** ********* ** too ***** ** ******* spending *****, *******, *** emergence ** ***** **** copiers *** ******* *** amplified *** *****. ******** managers ****** *** ******** the ********** ** ******* unauthorized ********** *** '**** tech' *** *** ***** as **** ** ******* 'low ****' ********* ********** keys *** ** *** hardware ** *** *** retail *****.

Next **: ***** **.** *** *** ******?

** ******** *******, ** will **** ********* **.** MHz ******* ** *** which **** *** ********** to ******* ** ******** attacks ***** ********** ******* or *********** ******** ***** tools. **** *** *** results ** ***** ****** format ** '****' *** if **** ***** *** risky.

Comments (13)

We just did some red team testing at one of our locations and this came up. Impeccable timing once again boys, cheers.

Has anyone recommended/used RFID Blocking Badge Holders that are designed to block low frequency 125kHz?   This question is related to "digital pickpocketing"  We all know you cannot block it 100% unless wrapped in foil or a lead box but by using RFID Blocking Holders you can reduce the ability to be compromised.

What are you doing to mitigate the risk while doing the obvious by getting rid of the vulnerability all together?  When you have 250K Cardholders and over 10K Access Points replacing the vulnerability is not an easy task.

We have purchased several blocking holders/sleeves and will be doing a test this week. Look for that report soon.

Our post on card shields is published here: Anti-Hack Access Card Shields Tested

We tried this ourselves, and I was able to read even through a carbon fiver RFID blocking wallet.

Last year we replaced our entire compliment of 10K prox cards with dual-format HID cards, then implemented a project to begin replacing readers the old prox readers with iClass units at +50 sites beginning with the perimeter, then main access points and critical doors. Also issued a directive to our security vendor that all new and replacement readers are to be iClass. Process is working pretty well; card replacement took 6mths and allowed us to updated all cardholder info (photos, security questions, PIN's etc). By having the cards compatible with both format readers, no disruptions to the end users. Side-note: if you include a PIN requirement with 125khz cards, doesn't matter if people have a clone (as long as people don't keep the PIN with the card).

if you include a PIN requirement

#2, thanks for sharing. Has there been any notable pushback or complaints about requiring a pin? It would seem to increase delay / add interruption to entering. On the other hand, depending on how secure your facility needs to be, it may be worth it.

Where did you get that particular writer?  I want one to bring around with me to demo how easy it is.  I could probably sell a lot of readers and cards once they see it.

People will always complain, but make the application reasonable, explain the whys and stick to a standard (don't make exceptions for specific sites).

The requirements has always been in place as part of our layering strategy, specifically at exterior doors outside of core business hours. This way you minimize the number of access points where they'd encounter delays (only 3sec per user/transaction) and only about 25% of staff are affected by the requirement.

Biggest challenge was sites deviated from the standard over the years, and people forgot their PIN's. Enter the new ID roll-out where we required people to pick a new PIN and made it part of the enrollment process (like when signing up for a credit card).

This also provided us an awareness opportunity to explain why PIN's are required.

20% of people will complain no matter what, 20% will tow the line no matter what, it's the middle 60% you need to try and win over and the only way to do that is with a good awareness and comm strategy. 

Agreed, completely. I found it to be a lot more helpful when communication goes out from security to the employees on a regular basis, not just when something is changing. If the general employee population understands the basis on which these decisions are being made, and understands their work and their inconvenience was considered in the process, they're a lot more likely to toe the line. That's how you develop a see something, say something culture, and make people feel like they're part of the solution, not just a victim of it.

there once was an RFID Copier app for phones that have NFC on the android appstre. does anyone remember the name? (around 2015)

Timely info

Great info.

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