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Magnetic Stripe Card Reading

By Patrick | March 20, 2007

A few months ago I used to be very interested in mag stripe reading and what data was contained on the back of a lot of various cards.  You know the ones I’m talking about.  You see them everyday on your student ID, drivers license, credit cards, frequent flyer miles, etc.  I’ve always wondered just exactly what is on those.  Especially those cards that are really personal to me and could have highly sensitive information on it like my drivers license, credit card, and even library card.

There’s been a number of people over the years that have looked into this already, so I won’t have to totally reinvent the wheel.  There are also a few good writeups on the web about how to build your own card reader and instructions on how to get that data into your PC.  One of those sites is by Billy Hoffman of SPI Dynamics.  A few years ago he wrote a suite of tools called Stripe Snoop that can read and import data from mag stripes.

There is also another gentleman by the name of Abend who did a presentation at ShmooCon 2006 about mag-stripe reading.  You can find his presentation and video here.   You can find his code here.

All that to say I’ve got a reader I picked up off eBay and I’m going to start gathering all the necessary parts to put together a reader I can hook up to my computer.  Then hopefully between Stripe Snoop, abend’s code, and some other sites, I’ll be able to get started researching.  I’ll post updates on my project here.

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Topics: Corporate, Government, Surveillance | 1,233 Comments »

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