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Think twice before obtaining an RFID enabled credit card

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More and more you're seeing the speed pay processors at cash registers across the nation. You know, the one where you just wave your card over it and it automatically registers the purchase. Inside the card is an RFID chip which is great technology for finding lost pets and tracking product moving thru warehouses. But for credit cards? Not so much. Look at the first couple minutes of this clip from one of the hosts of Discovery Channels Myth Busters. They wanted to do a segment on the hackability of RFID credit cards. Needless to say, that segment will never air:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-St_ltH90Oc

Here's an article from Scientific America describing RFID technology:

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=how-rfid-tags-could-be-used

Credit card companies want to use RFID chips int heir credit cards instead of magnetic stripes. The problem is that anyone with a high-gain antenna and a Palm/WindowsMobile device can read the information off the RFID chip from about 25 feet away. The only way to prevent someone from stealing your card-data if you have an RFID equipped credit card is to keep it in a protective cover (lead sheet or copper mesh).

RFID is NOT a secure technology by any measure of the word. It's like a DVD. It has a main cypher and once that gets out you can decode every chip in circulation. Since the readers will be in the hands of millions of vendors and their employees, it is unlikely the cypher would remain secret for very long.

RFID has its places in inventory control, pet tracking chips, etc. But it was never designed or intended to be used for secure transactions like credit cards or passports.

The fact that the credit card companies snuffed Mythbusters story about RFID shows they don't want it to be widely known that the technology has more security holes in it than a cheese grater. If you think ID theft and credit card fraud was running rampant before, just think of the havoc that could be wreaked when some 14 year old hacker breaks the code and then passes his knowledge on to the world via the net!


If you do have an RFID credit card, I would suggest that you keep it protected. You can buy RFID shielded wallets as well as sleeves to put all your RFID'd credit cards ID badges and passports into:

http://www.difrwear.com/

You can get the sleeves here:
http://www.idstronghold.com/products.php?s=2




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