The Chip in the Card (part II)

As discussed in our April newsletter (see “The Chip in the Card”), as the cyber technology evolves, so do opportunities for hackers to exploit the digital information systems developed. With the summer travel season quickly approaching, now is the perfect time to consider how safe RFID credit cards really are and how you can benefit from the advances in technology while still protecting yourself from identity theft.

A “radio frequency identification” or “RFID” credit card is one that has a chip embedded in the card that contains and broadcasts information that is traditionally carried on the magnetic stripe on the back of a credit card. These tiny chips are often embedded not just in credit cards, but also in security badges, grocery goods, passports, and even in implanted medical records or pet tags. In fact, many retail establishments in both the U.S. and Europe, especially restaurants, no longer swipe credit cards. Also, since August of 2007, all new U.S. passports issued contain RFID Chips, and by 2017, all U.S. passports will contain RFID chips.
Credit cards with RFID chips use “passive tags,” which emit a radio signal to transmit limited amounts of information over a small distance by a remote scanner. Because information can be transmitted over short distances, this means that the RFID chip and card reader only need to be within a certain range of each other to communicate information.
This “contactless” data transmission that RFID credit cards can be vulnerable to hacking even despite the fact that the credit cards are still tucked away in your wallet or purse.
Tips To Protect Your RFID Credit Card Information:
–  To block the RFID chips from being read, invest in RFID Blocking Technology in the form of a pocket, money belt, or neck wallet. These products are made with technologically advanced fabrics that contain thin metal fibers to block frequency.
–  Alternatively, you could wrap your credit cards or your passport in aluminum foil for the same effect, because metal blocks the radio signal and prevents the data from being read. However, the most effective RFID-protecting sleeves are those that use a “electromagnetically opaque” Faraday Cage within a leather exterior. While less durable, Faraday cages in paper sleeves are very effective for protecting digital information.
Regularly check your financial statements (such as daily, weekly, or monthly) to ensure there are no suspicious charges.
Best regards
und viele Grüße aus Charlotte
Reinhard von Hennigs