Technology that controls our finances is changing daily. Improvements and innovations arrive from the companies need to increase ease of use for the users and reduce the costs for themselves. Each new upgrade that comes into the hardware or software of technology brings a lot new and improved risks for the users. One such technology created to be a cost-effective, speedier and easier to use is the RFID.
The Radio Frequency Identification technology uses radio-frequency magnetic fields to track anything with a RFID tag, including people, assets and vehicles. RFID tags also access and communicate this information without the need of direct contact. This technology has begun to replace other, older and obsolete technologies like the magnetic swipe cards and barcodes. Technically, RFID tags or labels, store information to be read using radio frequency signals.
You might not realize it yet, but more than likely, you have been using RFID technology for some time. Nearly all the new credit and debit cards are now embedded with an RFID tech. This is how you are able to pay contactless at payment terminals. Almost all of our phones are also stocked with NFC capabilities, which is also a product of the RFID technology. Over 95% of the retail businesses in the US have or will start using RIFD tags on apparels to encourage people to use the technology. It is clear, RFID is not going anywhere, anytime soon.
So, what is RFID Skimming?
Like most other innovations of technology, RFID solves many problems, but, the technology is not impenetrable. The idea that your information is continuously being sent out into the air presents several threats and issues for the one whose information can be remotely stolen. Unlike with normal hardware skimming where the machines need to be tampered before your information can be stolen, RFID skimming can happen anywhere, anytime. You could be walking down the street, browsing your favourite store, or enjoying the sounds and views of the city while enjoying a cup of coffee at your favourite café.
RIFD skimming by definition is the wireless interception of information from your RFID chipped, passports, credit and debit cards, IDs, and devices. Using the RFID chip in your credit card, a skimmer can intercept your credit card number, expiration date and name. This information can be used for making online purchases or making a duplicate card. The RFID chips in your biometric passport can be used to create a counterfeit passport.
How Do They Do It? How Can I Stop Them?
The thing that makes stealing information from RFID chips so easy is the mass availability of card reading machines and applications. An RFID reader can easily steal your information from your chipped card from 15 feet away. Using NFC or Near-Field Communication devices, thieves are able to record this unencrypted data for simple thefts of funds or more complex identity theft crimes. What makes this form of theft so scary is the fact that RFID skimming requires little to no technical knowledge or expertise.
There are ways to protect yourself, however, and these small actions can end up saving you thousands.
- Limit the use of contactless cards as much as possible. Especially in public.
- Check your surroundings while using your card.
- Monitory your statements regularly.
- Place your RFID cards next to each other to make it more difficult to access only one.
- Use wallets or purses with RFID shields.
wRFID technology will be around for decades to come, so it is important to be informed on how it works. Knowledge can help prevent you from becoming a victim of an RFID skimmer sitting next to you at the restaurant, or movie theatre.