Wish You Could Hack the MetroCard?


Worried about the MTA raising their fares? $99 to $104 for a monthly pass that may not even have unlimited rides? Don’t you wish you could hack into your MetroCard and get free rides for life? That’s exactly what four MIT students did in 2008. They found multiple ways to bypass security mechanisms in Boston’s subway passes. For example, one can buy a 5-cent pass, a $150 card reader, and re-encode the card to hold over $600.

The students were supposed to present at a hacker convention called Defcon, but the MBTA won a ten-day restraining order that canceled all the fun. Only for a little while though. The judge presiding over the case soon let the restraining order expire, and the MIT boys are free to disseminate their findings to their hearts’ content. But I think the MBTA corrected their security flaws. Boo.

Read the pdf of the powerpoint presentation by Zack Anderson, Russell J. Ryan, Alessandro Chiesa, and Samuel G. McVeety. I’m sorry, can someone turn down the geek dial?

And here’s Anderson’s resume on his MIT homepage. After skimming it, I’m going to go cry about my life now.