RFID Tutorial: Defeat Hackers

Darling Hubby and I recently bought new wallets with RFID protection.

I thought I'd give a little tutorial about why this is important. Like most new things in today's world, it's to defeat the bad guys out to steal your private information.

What Is RFID?

RFID is the acronym for Radio Frequency Identification which is used for communicating or transferring information over short distances. All that is needed is the RFID chip, an electronic reader, and close proximity of the chip and the reader.

There are two main types of RFID chips.

(1) Passive Tags which require a radio signal to be emitted from the receiver in order for the information to be read. That means they can operate only in a small distance from each other. Therefore, they can’t transmit a lot of data. This kind of RFID chip is in your credit cards.

(2) Active Tags which contain on-board batteries and can transmit data over a larger distance. That also means they can transmit a much larger amount of data than a passive tag. This kind of active tag is in your toll pass device, mounted somewhere on your vehicle, probably on the windshield.

RFID Hackers

Unfortunately, it's easy for RFID chips to be hacked. Everything needed to make an RFID reader can be bought online, and instructions for hacking RFID chips are also posted online.

Hackers can even gain access to the embedded information on something you have and edit that information!

So what's the average consumer with RFID chips embedded in credit cards, toll tags, door passes, and more supposed to do?

Solutions range from the simple to the complex. Because metal and water are the only things that defeat RFID hacking, many people wrap their RFID chip embedded credit cards in aluminum foil.

That's not a great solution. It just means the hacker with the hidden device must get very close to you in order to steal your data. If you want the cheap solution of aluminum foil, then line the bill compartment of your wallet with foil. That's a bit better.

Better than foil is the RFID Blocking Wallet Sleeve. They come in packages, but they wear out and have to be replaced frequently.

The best solution is to buy a new wallet with RFID protection built in. The one my husband bought is like this.

There are many styles so look around. The important thing was to find one that was similar to what he already carried.

For women, it's easier since you drop it into your purse, but for me, it's more difficult since most carry a wallet in their hip pocket.

Many RFID wallets for men are thicker because of the metal so they may not be comfortable. Buy something that can be returned free.

The most effective are those that use a Faraday Cage with a leather exterior. Look for RFID wallets that say, "Electromagnetically Opaque."

For more on wallets like this, read the MakeUseOf article: RFID Wallets.

Takeaway Truth

It becomes annoying and difficult to stay one step ahead of the bad guys, but it's necessary to protect yourself.

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