RFID Skimming 101: How to Protect Your Cards - Securitybase

RFID Skimming 101: How to Protect Your Cards

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a form of wireless communication. The technique allows you to quickly and easily exchange electronic information between a sender and a receiver. This technology is used in many products such as credit cards, passports, driver licenses, access cards and transport passes.

The embedded RFID chip transmits information wirelessly to readers to perform functions such as confirming the person's identity, allowing access to a gym club or paying for a purchase.

RFID uses radio waves to read information stored on chips and this information can be scanned from several feet away, (without the need for a direct line-of-sight to the reader). It makes it very easy to use these products, but it also comes with a security risk that we did not have before.

Various hackers have proved how vulnerable RFID devices are. They demonstrated several attacks and the first cases of RFID skimming have been reported as well. Without realising it, your sensitive information might be compromised without you even knowing it. 

The good news is that most information on your cards and ID papers is encrypted, and you need specialised equipment to read the information. But surges in contactless card fraud have been reported in the UK, while VISA warns against skimming at unmanned gas stations and department stores in the US.

Most cards have security measures in place that ensures the information stored and transmitted from the card is not enough to complete a transaction. However, information such as your card number and expiry date are transmitted, just like.

How Does RFID Skimming Work?

Almost all payment cards have this chip technology that can transmit payment information wirelessly. It allows us to make contactless payments. However, hackers could scan your wallet filled with debit and credit cards in the same way that registers do when you’re making a contactless payment. They can buy RFID scanners at regular electronics stores, stand near you, and skim your cards without touching them.  

The information they skim can then be used to steal the victim’s identity or push through fraudulent transactions using their details.

Thieves using RFID card readers can steal your information in seconds. Vulnerable are:

  • Bank cards, credit cards
  • Access cards
  • Passport, ID cards and driver licences
  • Membership passes (e.g. gym cards)

    What can be impacted? 

    Your payment details and even your passport is at risk from RFID skimmers. Hackers can attack any payment card or identification document that includes radio frequency identification. Without proper protection, your information is at constant threat from card readers.

    Hackers are continually developing new ways to access and steal your information, like through contactless card fraud. They are brilliant, and the best hackers know precisely how to get what they want without you suspecting a thing. Hackers can take data from regular people at a shopping mall, CEOs in the corporate world, or government officials who aren’t protecting themselves adequately. Everyone is at risk because everyone has something hackers can use.

    How Can You Protect Yourself From RFID Skimming?

    1. RFID Blocking Card

    An RFID blocking card, like our RFID Card Defender, can prevent skimming without you having to do anything. It generates a disruptive field that blocks RFID scanners from accessing your wallet.

    2. Use an RFID Blocking Passport Holder

    An RFID blocking passport holder or sleeve can passport and other ID documents from theft. Check out our RFID Blocking Passport Sleeve for more information.

    3. Aluminum Foil

    Aluminum foil will block RFID signals in most instances, provided it fully covers the readable portion of a card or other item containing RFID technology. Make sure you use multiple layers for sufficient protection.

    4. RFID signal blocking wallets

    There are several wallets on the markets with RFID blocking technology. These will protect your cards against RFID skimming by applying the same technologies as RFID blocking sleeves.

    The convenience and safety promise of RFID technology ended up adding to your security risk. While the governments had good intentions when implementing radio frequencies to credit cards and identification documents, the fact is hackers are everywhere, and they are always trying to find a way to steal your information. Using a blocker card or passport sleeve is an easy and cheap solution to prevent a lot of trouble.

    Protect yourself with our RFID Card Defender and RFID Blocking Passport Sleeve.


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