So its been nearly a month since I last put a blog post up and I have been working on some stuff in my free time between work (been traveling to the US and took a weekend off to visit some friends in Canada). I’m not particularly in the mood to write a new post, but you know how it is, if I don’t start writing it I’ll never get round to it.
Essentially I have always been fascinated by the idea of being able to ‘hack’ with/into physical things, whether it be the Arduino and my watering system (btw you can see those stats at http://andrewmohawk.dyndns.org/AWS/), changing data on RFID cards or being that sneaky kid jackpotting ATM machines.
I started looking at magnetic stripes, mostly because they are *everywhere*, from bank cards, customer loyalty and even parking systems.
The basic gist of the system is that there are many tiny magnets or magnetic particles (usually iron oxide) which are magnetized in a specific manner within a magstripe. Essentially you take the card (or think of it as many magnets) and put it next to a magnetic reader (card reader) which then reads the fields. These fields are then taken to good ol 1’s and 0’s and used within backend systems after a bit of decoding.
The magnetic stripe on a card is actually made up of 3 different ‘stripes’ or tracks (usually – different types of cards will have a different number of tracks), right above each other. Each of these tracks can hold different amounts of data and for the basic breakdown you can read up about em at http://www.gae.ucm.es/~padilla/extrawork/tracks.html and http://www.ded.co.uk/magnetic-stripe-card-standards/
TL;DR – Track 2/3 = Numbers, Track1 = UPPERCASE,numbers
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Not the quickest of cats
on the best of days.