RF safety and security safeguards for building into credit cards, passports, and other personal identification tags
An access control system and a radio shield should be embedded in the ID tags to enhance security. In the first instance, the data that the RF chip contains would be encrypted. The key to access the data would be written, for instance, in the passport. The interested person should firstly swipe the passport through an optical reader. After the reader has gotten the key, it would use it to connect to the RFID.
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Thus, the passport owner would be able to control and decide who is allowed to access the data on the RFID. To see the data, a person has to open the passport first, enabling the owner to control the process. In the second instance, the radio shield – a paper-thin aluminum-enforced sheet – could be built into the passport cover to prevent the RF from being scanned.
Additionally, an RFID owner can use an aluminum-containing cover or special wallets for their credit cards. Alternately, an owner can line their wallets with pieces of foil or wrap sheets of foil around their cards. Such protection does not provide 100%-security but helps prevent scanning from longer distances.
The major credit card companies’ activities to keep the use of RFID chip credit cards from being seen as a threat
First and foremost, companies such as Visa and Master Card are maintaining that PIN usage is safe enough. Signature usage does not prove secure since the card readers do not identify them. Besides, signatures can easily be subject to forgery. PINs, on the other hand, create double security: the access to the data can be only got through the combination of digits. Another technology developed about RF cards is EMV: the card owner’s data, which is conventionally kept in the magnetic stripe, is securely encrypted.
The companies also assure the customers that signatures are, largely, senseless because they do not get recognized or even scanned by the readers. Besides, the conventional magnetic stripes have a CVV on them, which makes it even easier for the potential hacker to conduct a fraud purchase. Without the strips, the companies assure, the hacker simply will not have enough information. Such opinions are supported via mass media by demonstrating the ways of protection (namely, the aluminum-containing wallets) and the convenience of not having to swipe. Also, the RF is not disapproved of by the U.S. Secret Service, which is another factor of assurance.
Criminals exploiting the fear of credit cards with RFID chips
When it comes to private data theft, justified security concerns often balance on the edge of paranoia. Firstly, not every card has an RFID to transmit. If they have, they generally do not transmit further than several inches (mainly because they were designed to free the owner from swiping only). Furthermore, the information the thieves get does not go beyond the number, date of expiration, and name. Without the CVV, committing a fraud purchase is still difficult.
This information does not require much introspection – just some critical thinking. However, as it was said, the anxiety is likely to result in excessive fear, which can be exploited by criminals. They can use the fear simply by selling “brand-new” card wallets for twice the price they are worth. Alternatively, they can pretend to be the owner’s service provider and ask for personal data under the guise of security enhancement. The criminals can misinform the victim and intimidate them with some made-up facts, fostering the victim’s fear of data theft. A car owner, anxious to have their data protected, is quite likely to fall for such fraud.
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