Risk Less With Contact-less Credit Cards and Mobile Devices

by | Sep 29, 2020 | Cyber Security | 0 comments

The Timeline

Charles Walton is credited for inventing Near Field Communication (NFC) in the form of radio frequency identification (RFID) in the 80’s. This technology allows for the transmittal of radio information to a receiver. At the beginning of the millennium in 2002, Sony and a company called NXP Semiconductors invented the new NFC technology that was inspired by the RFID. That year, many major mobile companies had committed to adopting the NFC technology into their devices, and some even began incorporating it in their production. By 2006, the Nokia 6131 flip phone was the first mobile device produced to include an NFC chip that enabled them to be compatible with NFC smart points. In 2009, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) applications were applied to existing NFC technology, allowing users to send pictures, music, movies, documents, etc. to other NFC enabled phones via Bluetooth or other NFC connections. And by 2010, the very first Samsung “Android” Operating System phone to incorporate NFC technology was the Nexus S. Additionally in 2010, Barclaycard, a credit card brand, partnered with mobile firm Orange in the UK to launch a contact-less Credit Card, Mobile Orange. During this time Barclaycard also announced production of the first mobile phone able to make payments with contact-less technology. In 2011, the first mobile phones with MasterCard PayPass and/or Visa PayWave certification appeared. And in 2014, MasterCard announced that it would partner with Weve to focus on mobile payments.


How Does The Technology Work?

NFC enabled devices must come within 4-10 centimeters (roughly 1.6 inches) of each other to communicate. Unlike what’s shown in some commercials, physical touch isn’t required to share information.


The Risk

NFC technology comes with a major weakness. Someone with the malicious intention of stealing card information will only need to have a contact-less card reader approximately ten centimeters from the victim’s card. This means that credit card information theft can be done very easily and unnoticed in ordinary places like a mall or a very crowded place during rush hour. The stolen information is subsequently transferred to other participants, who are often unknown to the performing thief. These additional participants will make clone duplicates of the stolen credit cards, which are then used to cash out black money. The card readers that these thieves use are easy to find and buy on the internet, and are easy to conceal in pockets.

How To Protect Your Credit Card

One way to protect a card from a contact-less card reader is to purchase a special RFID-Blocking wallet or purse. This means you will need to change out your lovely purse or your old wallet that is already molded to your credentials and cards. Alternatively, you can buy the RFID-Blocking credit card that you can place in your usual wallets or purses and the reader won’t pick up the credit card. Another way is to buy the RFID protection sleeve, which provides great protection against card readers. However, they can be a pain to use when you need to access the card having to constantly remove and replace the sleeve, and it can also be difficult to fit in your wallet or purse. A free and easy way of protecting your information is by wrapping your cards with aluminum foil. You can also line your wallet with aluminum foil by cutting it to the size of a dollar bill and placing it in the billfold. It is always advisable to have an alert set that informs you of changes to your account balance using SMS messages or push notifications. Alternatively, you can also reduce the cash amount allowed when paying by card without specifying a PIN.

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