What is Card Cloning and Why Should We Care?

March 21st, 2019



No security system is completely perfect.  Security companies can use modern technology to come up with high-tech access control and alarm systems, but others who want to break into small companies, major corporations, and even government agencies in Chico, CA can use that same technology to develop workarounds, exploit weaknesses, and trick employees into providing access.  One such exploit has to do with proximity access control cards and how easy it is to clone them.

The Technology

Proximity access control systems have been around since the late 80s and quickly surged to prominence among factories, high-tech companies, and major corporations.  These systems send out a signal on the 125 kHz frequency, and if you bring a proximity card close enough it will send its identification to the card reader.  The cards don’t need a battery supply, they’re tough and last a long time, and you don’t even have to worry about swiping your card through a malfunctioning reader.

The Problem

The biggest problem with 125-kHz access cards is the fact that the technology has been around for decades.  The encoding on the cards is simple by today’s standards, and while modern security companies have better card systems than they did back in the 80s, you don’t have to look very hard to find a way around those systems.  After all, with so many important companies using these cards a lot of people had good reasons to want to exploit them.

For remote access cards, the solution is cloning.  Card cloning is relatively easy to do these days:  without paying much money, you can get a device that will read the signal coming from a proximity access card and program a new card to send the exact same signal.  You can legally buy these devices because they also help companies set up their security system.  This method does require that the would-be intruder get an access card in the first place, but that can be easier than you’d think and still represents a hole in your security system.

The Update

These days, companies have been fighting against card cloning by switching to a new standard:  smart cards.  Smart cards operate on the 13.56 MHz frequency, and they add extra credentials, features, and encryption so that if the wrong reader tries to get their access codes the only thing they’ll pick up is gibberish.  These new cards follow tested international security standards, and you can use the same cards for access control, business expenses, and personnel tracking.  Companies in Chico, CA and around the world were slow to implement them at first thanks to the cost, but that cost has gone down significantly in the last few years.

Proximity access cards were once all the rage, and many companies still use them today.  However, the technology is outdated and easy to clone at this point, so a growing number of companies are switching to the more modern and secure smart card standard.  If your company in Chico, CA has something important to protect, consider getting a smart-card upgrade for your own access control system.

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D. Weseman, Butte County Mosquito and Vector Control District

Crime Free Living updated our old video system with a new 16 Channel HD Alibi Video Security System. The old system had been added onto by different installers which resulted in a cabling mess. There were cables that worked and cables that went nowhere. It was a mess. Tim sorted it all out and installed cameras that are very clear. He also installed a monitor for our cashiers to watch hidden areas, a monitor to watch the entry door, and a monitor that allows employees to watch the outside parking and gas pump area. All work was done on time and very professional! Will always recommend Tim and Crime Free Living.

S. AM PM Chico Arco Station

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images Certifications & Training

With 16 years of experience in law enforcement, Tim Truby, CEO, is fully certified in video surveillance and training.

  • Certified Advanced Crime Prevention Specialist
  • Academy Instructor Certification
  • California POST Certification in Specialized Surveillance Equipment
  • California POST Certification in Basic Crime Prevention
    • Advanced Crime Prevention through Environmental Design
    • Certified Alibi Security Dealer
    • Enhanced Risk and Threat Assessment (FEMA)
    • Incident Command System (100 & 200)
    • Certified Cognitech Video Forensic Investigator
    • Neighborhood Watch Toolkit Trainer
    • Computer Crimes/Investigations
    • Domestic Crisis for Crisis Negotiators