Today, RFID security is more important than ever. RFID (radio frequency identification) chips have helped to streamline the process of paying for products, but unfortunately, they've come with a few caveats.
When they aren't appropriately protected, RFID chips can allow malicious actors unauthorized access to your finances. Knowing how to mitigate RFID security concerns and protect your financial information is more important than ever.
It starts with understanding the technology behind Radio Frequency Identification chips themselves. Once you know about the technology, taking proactive steps to protect yourself is simple.
Understanding RFID Security
RFID security encompasses all techniques and practices used to protect your finances from unauthorized readers and brute-force attacks.
RFID chips are susceptible to unauthorized scanning and eavesdropping, so most security measures to protect RFID-enabled credit cards involve guarding them against data transmission. Unfortunately, RFID security risks come with tremendous consequences.
If you're a victim of common attacks, you may suffer consequences like theft of credit card data or biometric data, financial losses, and even breach of personal information.
Knowledgeable RFID hackers may even attempt to leverage the information they gain from scanning to get unauthorized access to your account or back-end systems.
Undoubtedly, one of the most essential cybersecurity practices you can implement in your day-to-day life is protecting your active RFID tags. Luckily, plenty of small, practical ways to protect yourself from RFID attacks exist.
Practical Tips for Enhancing RFID Security
There are a few ways that you can enhance your RFID security. One of the best and simplest methods is using RFID-blocking accessories, such as wallets, card holders, and sleeves.
These accessories can completely block the radio waves responsible for RFID breaches, all while keeping your cards close at hand. You should also consider keeping your RFID-enabled cards in separate holders.
It's unlikely, but not impossible that someone can get past your RFID protection. This may happen if you purchase your RFID wallet from an unreliable company or if the attacker has a particularly high-tech scanner. Storing your cards separately will ensure they only get access to one or two cards at once.
If you aren't using RFID features, consider disabling them altogether, keeping them turned off while not in use.
Many companies allow you to disable RFID access to your debit or credit card and make them read-only. If you want to prevent unauthorized payments, this is an excellent method.
There's no way for a hacker to pay with a disabled card, even if they get the access control token. Regardless of what other measures you take, you should always closely monitor your account activity.
If you notice anything unusual on your account statements, you should reach out to your credit card company and attempt to determine whether fraud has taken place. Identifying fraud early will allow you to stop it in its tracks.
You should also be extremely cautious in crowded areas, even if you're using a wallet with RFID protection. Someone with a sufficiently strong RFID reader may still be able to scan your RFID chips.
Whether in a retail store, hotel room, or the city, remember that RFID hackers may lurk just outside your line of sight. Finally, remember that you don't need to let go of your preferences just to protect your passive RFID tags.
If you like to store your cards in your phone case, consider purchasing an RFID-blocking phone case lined with a material like aluminum.
Keeping your cards in your pocket with your phone facing outward will serve as another line of protection for your cards.
Additional Tips and Precautions
While following the example tips outlined above is sufficient to protect against most RFID technology risks, there are a few more practices you can add to your life to protect yourself.
You should always be cautious on public Wi-Fi networks, even in a paid hotel room, and avoid conducting sensitive transactions on these networks. You should also make sure to update your RFID-enabled devices regularly.
Sign up for update alerts from the manufacturers of your RFID-enabled devices and install any updates you're aware of as soon as possible.
Many updates address previously identified security threats, so updating your device will guard against most known attacks.
Proactively Protect Your RFID Data
Protecting your financial information from hackers is more important than ever. Innovations such as RFID chips and contactless payment have introduced a lot of convenience into our lives, but unfortunately, they've also introduced many new risks.
Identifying and addressing these risks is vital if you want to keep your personal information private and protect your funds.
When you use RFID-guarding accessories, exercise caution in your day-to-day life, and stay up-to-date with the latest advisories for RFID security measures, you can rest assured that your funds will remain safe and sound.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are all RFID-enabled items at risk of data theft?
All RFID-enabled items are at risk of data theft. If you have another product that uses RFID technology, you should be very careful.
For example, some companies have used RFID for two-factor authentication or entry authentication. Malicious actors targeting your company may attempt to scan your RFID device if they learn about this.
Can I use multiple RFID-blocking products simultaneously?
You can use multiple RFID-blocking products simultaneously. For example, you could put your credit card in an RFID-blocking sleeve and then in your aluminum wallet.
This generally isn't necessary, though. A simple, thin layer of RFID-blocking metal is sufficient to guard against almost all security concerns.
How do I know if my credit card has an RFID chip?
By looking for the RFID symbol, you can determine if your credit card has an RFID chip. If you see a small symbol resembling the Wi-Fi symbol, your card is RFID-enabled.
You can also check if your card supports tap-to-pay or contactless payment, as only RFID cards support this payment method. If in doubt, contact your credit card company and ask.