A 24-year-old engineer was arrested on Friday on suspicion of cracking the EasyCard encryption system and changing the value of cards to make purchases at convenience stores, Taipei EasyCard Corp said yesterday, maintaining that its security system remains sound.
Wu Dong-lin (吳東霖) allegedly decoded the encryption of three EasyCards he had in his possession and changed the value in each of the cards to NT$9,000. The company’s information security system detected the anomaly and the company worked with police in Taipei to apprehend him after he made a purchase with an EasyCard at a convenience store.
EasyCard general manager Cheng You-chin (鄭有欽) said the company reported the situation to the police immediately after its system detected the anomaly on Sept. 10, but did not lock out the cards so that the police could trace the suspect’s location.
Before the arrest was made, the suspect allegedly made six purchases totaling NT$608 using two of the three EasyCards at convenience stores, and the loss to the company was only NT$39 after deducting the original values in the cards of NT$569, Cheng told a press conference held at the company.
Chen Kuo-wen (陳國文), a division chief at the police department, said Wu claimed he only decoded the encryption code for his EasyCards and did not collude with others.
Cheng dismissed concerns about the information security of the EasyCard system, adding that while the encryption system on the cards could be cracked, the company’s transaction security mechanism and other protection systems would serve as the gatekeeper against any acts of theft.
“The suspect did not hack into the value store-up system or copy other users’ EasyCards. We remain confident about our information security mechanisms and we can promise that all customers’ rights will be protected,” he said.
Wu’s alleged crime violated the Act on Issuance and Management of Electronic Monetary Cards (電子票證發行管理條例) and he could face a sentence of one to 10 years, or a fine of up to NT$200 million (US$6.5 million), Chen said.
EasyCards, which are used mostly for public transportation, can be used to make a purchase of up to NT$1,000 per transaction with a daily cap of NT$3,000 after the Financial Supervisory Commission approved their use as an electronic cash card beginning in April last year.
EasyCard holders can store up to NT$10,000 in value and use the card as an electronic wallet at major convenience stores and more than 10,000 shops nationwide.