Radio frequencies are being used more often to offer convenience to consumers, particularly in the form of RFID, radio frequency identification. If you've ever had a credit card that didn't have to be swiped at the grocery store or a hotel card key that simply had to be aligned with a sensor before unlocking the door, RFID technology is something you've used.
Some hackers have been creating their own scanners with which to capture card chips and personal information using this technology. Therefore, you have to know as much as you can about both the technology and how to protect yourself.
How Does RFID Tech Work?
In a card or tag with RFID technology, the chip imbedded in it will transmit a low frequency recognized by a scanner that is configured to pick up that particular frequency. Some chips transmit farther distances than others, which means you may have to stand closer or farther away in order for your chip to be read.
Is RFID Technology Secure?
If someone trying to read your RFID chip or tag, they need to be close enough to you that their scanner receives the chip's transmission easily or possess a scanner so strong that you can be standing across the room. In many cases, you won't be standing too close to strangers--that eliminates a lot of risk. However, if you're in public places often, it's smart to look into security protection so that someone scanning the space won't make contact with your chip.
What Can Be Done to Avoid Being Hacked?
To avoid hacker trouble, blocking or disrupting any signal to stop transmission is your best bet. Many people use something as simple as aluminum foil from their kitchen to wrap credit cards in, for instance. Foil is made from aluminum, a metal that is effective in keeping others from getting your chip's information. You can also purchase purses and wallets that have special qualities that will block any hacker. Sometimes these wallets are referred to as opaque or electromagnetically opaque.
If you're done using a particular card and would rather not put it in the trash without disabling the chip, consult professional RF security services. Avoid heeding the rumor that sticking the card into your kitchen microwave for a few seconds will destroy the chip and any personal information, as you might cause a small explosion or another unsafe situation.
RFID technology is convenient, but you have to be smart about the cards you own so that hacking doesn't happen to you. Discuss protection guidelines with RF security services in your area.