Protect Your Tech From RFID
Guest Author: J.C. Lightcap
We are all mobile by now; whether it’s phones, laptops, tablets, or e-readers, we get work done from anywhere. For example, I started writing this article at Union Station, downtown Denver and I’m now finishing it in Salt Lake City.
These devices make communication a snap and handle so many of the tasks in our daily lives that it makes you wonder how we got anything done before all this technology. I mean, why dig out your wallet and swipe your card when you can simply wave your phone by the reader on the counter, grab your latte and get back to knocking out work emails on the coffee shop Wi-Fi?
For these devices to communicate, they send information, your information, out into the world. Most commonly using RFID, NFC, or Bluetooth.
Any time your information is broadcast, it creates a vulnerability and opportunity for identity theft. The Bureau of Justice reported approximately 17.6 Million victims of identity theft back in 2014.
Though RFID may sound complicated, its close relative, NFC may be more familiar, especially if you are using a virtual wallet such as Android Wallet, Apple Pay or Samsung pay. *We don’t have enough space here to define all these acronyms, so we’ve included some quick links at the bottom to get you up to speed.
Additionally, some of these apps are always on, looking for something to connect to, the next opportunity to be useful. It might be Bluetooth looking for a device to pair with, or NFC looking for a payment register or GPS tracking your progress around town. Credit cards with EMV have broadcast capability built into the card (look for the Wi-Fi symbol on the card).
What’s even more interesting, according to a report conducted by Lookout mobile security, is that a large portion the apps we use have access to our personal information. Here’s the percentage breakdown:
- 30% of apps access contact records
- 30% of apps access GPS
- 31% of apps access the calendar
- 39% of apps access the microphone
- 75% of apps access the cameras
So how do we get around the random broadcasting of our information via our phones and laptops?
In the settings on your phones and laptops, you can turn the GPS, Wi-Fi, and NFC off, and back on again when you're ready to use it. I've tried this, and I eventually just leave it off and stop using the technology altogether.
Another option is to shield your tech using RFID blocking technology. Phone cases, laptop sleeves, and backpacks lined with a Faraday cage do just that; prevent the signals carrying your data from getting out into the world AND preventing others from remotely accessing your device and personal information.
The three benefits of Faraday cage technology:
Privacy: Eliminates camera spying and geo-tracking.
Security: Prevents identity theft from RFID / NFC or Bluetooth hijacking.
Physical: Blocks physical radiation emissions from devices.
How do you protect your tech and your personal data?
About The Author: J.C Lightcap is a travel enthusiast and founder of Safer Travels, LLC. Safer Travels, LLC educates and empowers travelers on how to travel safely, efficiently, and how to be savvy world travelers who are prepared for whatever the environment throws their way. J.C. has traveled to over 40 countries and is truly passionate about exploring new destinations. Be sure to check out Safer Travels, LLC before traveling abroad!
- RFID: Radio Frequency Identifiable Devices
- NFC: Near Field Communication
- EMV: Europay Mastercard Visa. The three companies that came together to create the technology and a more secure method of payment via credit cards. This is still an NFC and requires very close proximity or insertion into a card reader to process.
- Faraday cage technology: How stuff works
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