I'd be pretty annoyed if some salesweasel lied to me about it; but it's unlikely that an RFID installation replaced something that was harder to clone, and it's still easier than keys, slightly more robust than mag stripe readers, and reasonably cheap per tag. In some ways that makes it even more obnoxious to harass the researchers, though.
Thinking of that, the pictures of a whole bunch of curved ribs(in what look to be several varieties of wood) forming a cylinder/cone thing with loads of joints that is expected to be immersed during use, caused me to immediately start imagining assorted ominous creaking, stress fractures, and hull geometry issues that you'll have a heroic time hammering out.
Is the coating adequate to prevent that sort of thing? Are they using some carpentry-fu of the same type that holds wooden barrels and wheels together? Will it in fact be a disaster in short order?
It probably will be an amusing test of whether Apple's BIOS emulation layer is up to scratch, or whether it was written rather closely against the specific versions of Windows supported by bootcamp and the bootcamp drivers...
The tricky thing (and I'm not actually certain where they stand on this now) is that Intel's initial reputation was founded on the superior performance and reliability of the in-house controller design that they used in their x-18 and x-25, especially dramatic back when there was some utter garbage floating around (JMicron controllers, OCZ living up to their reputation) and the safe options were comparatively slow and extremely expensive.
Then, for some reason, they just sat and stagnated on that controller design for several generations, and eventually shipped a Marvell controller in order to have something with SATA 6Gb support. Since then, they've released some Sandforce based stuff, and some of their own; but it isn't as clear exactly what "Intel" on the label means anymore.
This is not to say that nobody involved is genuinely concerned; but it should be remembered that complaints about the labor market can come from either side, with the supply side generally having the numbers and the demand side generally having the influence. (And, at times, they even shift remarkably quickly: just remember how fast getting women into heavy industry became a national cause during WWII, and how fast encouraging them to keep house in the suburbs become one afterwards.)
It's seriously difficult to understand the mindset of the organization and how they came into this. Did they even bother hiring a competent cryptographer when designing their product ? Were they duped by someone they hired and led to design a insecure product ? Or is encrypting an RFID communication a difficult and non-trivial task with no known vetted solution ?
I don't think that the problem is difficult in some fundamental way (the problem of verifying a remote host with asymmetric crypto has been reasonably well explored with SSL/TLS, and an access control system has the advantage of being able to trust only a CA it controls, and the advantage that you need to get physical access to an RFID reader pad to attempt attacks); but there are significant practical challenges.
RFID chips are pretty power constrained, since they only get whatever energy they can scavenge from the reader's RF output; and customers want them to be cheap. The industry also has fairly long product lifecycles (since, once you've put in a zillion card readers and integrated it with all your other building security stuff you don't want to rip it out and upgrade in 2 years).
It isn't so much a 'there is no known cryptographic solution to this problem' issue as a 'Why yes, we still have major customers using the 'security' provided by the lousy proprietary cryptosystem that our engineers were able to cram into a cheap, power-constrained, chip using the fab processes available in the mid to late 90s, and we really don't want to fix that' issue.
Most of the world knows that security is fleeting, and those that deepend on the law to preserve obscurity is the fleetingness of all. Do they not even consider that citizens of nations that don't give a shit about legal protections are the very people their customers need to be protected against? These companies should be paying rewards to anyone who can defeat their protections, not punishing them.
Aside from pure cultural dysfunction (of the sort that causes even some software companies to threaten the people who do free security testing for them, and even offer them time to fix bugs before releasing the proof of concept), the issue is that HID and friends are closer to locksmiths than to software companies.
RFID (and non-standardized but conceptually similar contactless short range RF fobs and slightly longer range button-cell-powered keyless entry systems) tends to be painfully computationally limited, since the tags need to be cheap and need to work on a tiny power budget. The older ones are even worse, of course, since they had less efficient silicon fabrication options to work with. For the same reason, such devices aren't usually little microcontrollers with flashable software; but mostly or entirely fixed-function implementations of crap proprietary crypto systems. Depending on when the corresponding card readers and access control stuff was installed, and what the customer picked, those parts of the system may also be hard to upgrade without ripping them out and replacing them(and, since this is a physical security issue, the readers are more likely to be embedded in walls/bolted to stuff/otherwise tied down and hardwired, so it won't just be swapping out a bunch of desktops.
Because upgrading in-software/firmware is often difficult or impossible, and upgrading involves ripping out hardware that was supposed to have years of service life, HID and friends really don't want to hear about it. They'd much rather just try to tamp down public awareness of the issue, hope that there are no high-profile breaches of customers capable of suing them, and pretend it isn't a problem until the flawed parts have aged out.
As much as it's a repulsive, dishonest, and definitely-unworthy-of-support-by-the-courts tactic, it must be admitted that plenty of known-broken lock designs continue to more-or-less do their jobs (if attackers are still forcing doors rather than just picking locks, the lock is apparently still effective) for years after their weaknesses become public knowledge, so it is entirely probable that various HID access fobs will quietly age out without any major incidents. No need to threaten the researchers about it, though.
People love to hate Apple. It's a thing. Also, is there any evidence this data is not anonymised by Apple?
'Anonymised' is mostly a weasel word. It isn't always impossible; but the more interesting the dataset is, the more likely it is that there's a clever re-identification attack with good odds of success. If you are serious about preventing those, you tend to have to nuke the data so hard that they aren't of much interest anymore.
Unless robustly demonstrated to the contrary, it's an essentially worthless claim.
So what do you do? You start by trying to cut the search space into more manageable chunks with this sort of study, which doesn't provide the level of precision you ultimately want; but can (relatively) cheaply and easily provide some leads on what is worth looking at in greater detail and what isn't.