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The 125kHz Proximity Card Dilemma

The technology is still widely in use, but when it comes to the security of the low-frequency 125kHz prox (short for proximity) cards, you can’t really argue about how scary easy it is to clone them.

You might as well just leave the door open, put a key under the mat, or have a flashing neon sign saying ‘come on in’.

At ICT we're committed to providing the highest security solutions for our customers, which is why we're shifting to EV3 for all MIFARE DESFire credentials as of April 2023.

Anyone who manages security for an apartment building, office, or property that uses this legacy technology will have stories about the problems that cloned cards can cause, but they may not be aware just how easy it is to do, or how simple it is to stop.

We’ve seen firsthand how easy it is to clone a card with a $30 scanner bought online. After turning it on, it only took 5 seconds to scan the original card, and a couple more seconds to make a clone. The entire process, from taking it out of the box, to having a duplicate card in our hands, took no more than 15 seconds.

125 kHz cards aren’t just susceptible to cloning if you have the physical card to place it on a card copier. There are numerous examples online demonstrating how it is possible to scan and clone credentials from a distance without a victim even knowing they have been targeted.

As IPVM explains, the main issue is that the information contained on 125kHz prox cards isn’t encrypted. This means a card copying device can extract the relevant information such as site code and card number easily and transfer it to a blank card. The encryption on a 13.56MHz MIFARE DESFire proximity smart card means you can reduce the risks associated with card cloning. And you can further increase security by pairing smart cards with another credential such as a PIN for two-factor authentication.

This is why we recommend using MIFARE DESFire 13.56MHz smart card technology to protect your property. DESFire has the highest standard of card security currently available, and many other advantages over 125 kHz technology. In many instances, it can also be a cheaper option, so there’s no excuse for not getting smart. Check out our latest article to learn more about the benefits of a DESFire solution.

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