Technological advances have made people’s lives much easier and more comfortable. For instance, RFID technologies have been used in supply chain management for years, and this advancement has been already introduced in the sphere of people’s personal and financial data (Saadi, Touhami, & Yagoub, 2016). The use of RFID chips in credit cards, passports, and other types of documents is still associated with a certain distrust. Many people fear that their money can be stolen easily. Various trials and experiments reveal the vulnerability of the new technology, but experts still stress that RFID technologies are safe (Poulter & Woollaston, 2014). This paper includes a brief analysis of threats associated with the technology, ways used to address them, and strategies employed to affect public opinion on the matter.
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One of the major concerns is related to security of data as RFID systems can be rather vulnerable due to the use of radio waves. Sharma, Agarwal, and Singh (2017) describe several types of attacks aimed at interfering with the work of RFID chips. One of the possible outcomes of such attacks is the loss of money as attackers can withdraw money from cards equipped with RFID chips. Nevertheless, this threat is quite minimal as such credit cards have certain limits for transactions (Poulter & Woollaston, 2014). Moreover, retailers and banks also pay attention to the number of transactions made and can track possible attackers (Bischoff, 2016). It is clear that financial security is properly ensured although there are chances that some frauds are possible as any system can be potentially vulnerable.
Fears Can Help Criminals
Another serious threat is associated with data security. Peris-Lopez, Hernandez-Castro, Estevez-Tapiador, and Ribagorda (2016) note that this hazard is more serious as confidentiality breach can lead to various adverse effects. Financial losses can increase exponentially if a cardholder’s identity (in simple words, confidential data) is stolen. Again, people fear that attackers can read the chips quite easily and use their confidential information later. However, researchers note that this criminal activity is unlikely to take place as it is associated with various inconveniences for attackers (Bischoff, 2016). A criminal should be close to the card, there should be no obstacles, and certain equipment is needed. It is much easier to steal data online when people pay from their digital wallets. Therefore, the threat is also comparatively insignificant.
Integrity is another concern people have when considering the use of RFID chips in their credit cards. The system seems vulnerable as the transmission of messages between chips and readers can be violated (Peris-Lopez et al., 2016). The abundance of items equipped with RFID chips as well as the use of several readers can lead to certain malfunctions. In simple terms, cardholders will not be able to use their cards due to certain errors. Finally, physical harm is another area related to the vulnerability of the system. Markantonakis and Mayes (2013) note that RFID chip can be harmed quite easily, which also leads to their malfunctioning.
The fears mentioned above can be used by criminals who can benefit from people’s distrust in many ways. Most importantly, the discussion of hazards associated with the RFID technology distracts people’s attention from the cybercrime that is much more serious (Sharma et al., 2017). The distraction of attention is the major benefit for cybercriminals. People can be concerned with the safety of their RFID chips rather than the safety of their confidential information.
As far as major ways to ensure safety and security of RFID chips in credit cards, several effective strategies have been introduced. It has been acknowledged that the use of foil can ensure RFID security (Sharma et al., 2017). Bischoff (2016) notes that a multi-million industry has already emerged as people are offered wallets, clothes, and other items safeguarding their valuable information. Another simple but effective way to ensure credit card safety is a regular tracking of transactions (Sharma et al., 2017). As has been mentioned above financial facilities, as well as other establishments using RFID technologies, try to track fraudulent activities, which has proved to be an effective method. A more sophisticated and costly way to improve the situation is associated with the development of more secure systems. RFID technologies have been improved significantly since the first days of their use, and this work will not be terminated. More sensitive readers and RFID chips can be developed. At the same time, it can be necessary to make chips more resistant to physical harm.
It is necessary to note that card issuers try to change people’s attitudes towards the use of RFID technologies. One of the common ways to promote the use of the system is advertising. The use of RFID technologies in the financial sphere and the sphere of ID cards has been publicized and highlighted in the media. Bank employees tell their clients about the benefits of the systems as well as safeguards that are in place (Bischoff, 2016). Many banks do not even ask their clients about their attitudes towards the use of RFID chips and provide credit cards equipped with the chips.
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In conclusion, it is necessary to note that the use of RFID technologies in people’s identity cards is associated with various fears. However, these fears are quite groundless as cybercrime is a much more serious threat. Clearly, it is essential to take quite simple precautions to make sure that the most valuable data remain safe. However, there is no need in trying to avoid the use of new technologies that can help people make their life easier.
Bischoff, V. (2016). Could you fall prey to a contactless conman? How thieves can take money from your card as you’re walking down the street. Daily Mail. Web.
Markantonakis, K., & Mayes, K. (2013). An introduction to smart cards and RFIDs. In K. Markantonakis & K. Mayes (Eds.), Secure smart embedded devices, platforms and applications (pp. 3-26). New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media.
Peris-Lopez, P., Hernandez-Castro, J. C., Estevez-Tapiador, J. M., & Ribagorda, A. (2016). Attacking RFID systems. In P. Kitsos (Ed.), Security in RFID and Sensor Networks (pp. 29-48). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
Poulter, S., & Woollaston, V. (2014, November 3). ‘Major flaw’ discovered in Visa’s contactless cards: Thieves could bypass £20 limit to steal up to 999,999.99 – so long as it’s in a foreign currency. Daily Mail. Web.
Saadi, H., Touhami, R, & Yagoub, M. C. E. (2016). Automatic identification and data capture techniques by radio frequency identification RFID tags applied to reader authentication. In M. S. De Alencar (Ed.), Communication, management and information technology: International conference on communication, management and information technology (pp. 227-234). London, England: CRC Press.
Sharma, R., Agarwal, A. K., & Singh, P. K. (2017). Comparing different methodologies used to ensure the security of RFID credit card: A comparative analysis. Journal of Network Communications and Emerging Technologies, 7(1), 13-17.