Britain's e-passports cracked in 48 hours

The New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) is not concerned about reports from the U.K. that say RFID (radio frequency ID) chips in passports can be cracked in as little as 48 hours.

British newspaper The Guardian reports it was able to access the data stored on RFID cards in Britain's newly launched smart passports.

However, the DIA says there isn't enough information contained within the New Zealand passports' chips to create counterfeit travel documents.

DIA passport manager David Philp confirms that it is possible to access the information stored on the RFID chips and use it to make a clone. However, the RFID chip in the e-passports currently issued in New Zealand is just one security feature out of more than 50 contained in the passport.

Having just a cloned chip isn't sufficient to create a counterfeit passport, Philp says, and adds that such an endeavor is quite involved. While New Zealand passports are 'highly desirable," the DIA has seen very few credible counterfeited ones, he says.

While the general design goal of the e-passport is to lock the holder's identity to the document in a secure manner, Philp says that there has to be a balance between risk management and customer service.