A Guide to RFID Protection

RFID technology is already present in your bankcard, passport, public transport pass or other ID cards. And if you’ve read our guide page on “What is RFID?” you have a good idea of how it works too. But what about the inevitable RFID protection questions? If RFID reader devices can scan your data without touching your cards, can data thieves access your card information?

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There are hundred of web articles warning you about the dangers of RFID theft – and RFID based fraud is constantly on the rise. 

It's always better to be safe than sorry. Here’s our guide to how data can (potentially) be stolen by RFID, and how you can protect yourself against it.

Where are your RFID tags and how could thieves scan them?

It’s easy to forget sometimes that there’s a tiny little RFID tag embedded in your credit card and passport. They’re small and you can’t see them, so they might as well not be there. But as the US Government diagram above shows, there’s a chip and antenna in your passport right between the cover and the laminate. This tag is scannable by the guy at the airport arrivals desk – but a thief could also scan it with his or her own scanner.

 

That’s not very likely, because typical RFID tags need to be very close to a reader in order to be scanned. So although scaremongers will tell you that RFID tags can be scanned “without you knowing,” it actually happens very rarely.

RFID protection methods

If you’re still worried about RFID-based fraud, you have some pretty good options for protecting yourself. And they aren’t even expensive or time-consuming.

The simplest is to buy an RFID-protected wallet. Blocking RFID is quite simple, because the radio waves they use are highly susceptible to interference. RFID wallets feature a protective layer that prevents RFID devices from reading your cards while they’re in the wallet. 

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RFID is here to stay

Contactless ID cards that use RFID technology aren’t 100% secure – nothing is. But their very short range makes them difficult for thieves to get at. And devices that give you extra RFID protection are cheap, unobtrusive and easy to use. As RFID becomes more advanced, security is likely to improve even further.

For even more about RFID, read our guides on RFID chips and RFID tags.

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