Be Careful With Your RFID Tags...

That little black line can cause more problems than you think.
That little black line can cause more problems than you think.

What is RFID?

Technology is constantly improving our lives, though it seems that sometime it takes one step back and makes everything harder. In the case of protecting your private information, technology took three steps back.

RFID (radio-frequency ID) was invented in the early 1970's as a way to track people using the New York subways and toll them for the amount of rides that they took. It works when a radio signal "pings" the chip embedded within the card, and the chip sent it's information back.

RFID was made with the intent of making our lives easier. For example, RFID was put in credit cards so that you didn't even have to swipe your card, you just tap it against the scanner. It was put in passports so that you could track the times and dates of when you were leaving a country. What it also made a lot easier was the ability for random people to steal your information.

Credit card numbers, passport information, and other sensitive information could be taken from you, and there is almost nothing that you can do to stop it.


A tiny RFID chip used in credit cards and passports.
A tiny RFID chip used in credit cards and passports.

How easy is it to hack?

RFID wouldn't be bad at all if it wasn't so easy to hack. It doesn't take hardly any computer knowledge at all. In fact, a hacker showed us that he could steal all the credit card information off of someone's card with just an 8 dollar scanner and a laptop.

It has also been proven that RFID chips in passports can be cloned, with just 250 dollars worth of equipment bought over the internet. This information can then be put on other passports and used by people who, for example, want to sneak drugs over into different countries. And when they get caught, who do you think is getting a visit?

The real problem is that companies that distribute RFID chips say that they are safe and difficult to hack, when in reality the chips are making it even easier to steal your identity.

Big Brother is watching you.
Big Brother is watching you.

Horror Scenario

Ever heard the term "Big Brother is watching"? Some predict a future where RFID chips would be implanted into everyone in society. The government could then track where you were, what you have bought throughout the day, and what you were doing. This sort of technology is already in effect in some humans today. It is used in medical patients today as a way of storing medical information inside of them so that in an accident, the information could be retrieved. And while the U.S. has a law that RFID chips cannot be put in humans without their consent, the future could have a very different outcome.

What you can do to stop it.

Luckily for us, RFID signals can be blocked in a various amount of ways, some being more complex than the last. If you want to be really cheap, you can line your wallet with aluminum foil. More expensive options include buying specially made wallets that have lining built in that reflects incoming radio waves. If you really want to get stylish, there is even a wallet made completely of woven steel threads that blocks RFID waves very well.


That little circle indicates that this card has an RFID chip built in.
That little circle indicates that this card has an RFID chip built in.

Just watch out.

Credit card companies are to afraid to admit it, but RFID is very hackable. If you're not convinced, do a little research and see.

In any case, be careful and nothing should go wrong. RFID scanning is a problem, but not as huge as online scamming, so there is still time to correct the problem before it grows larger. Technology like this probably won't get smaller, but you can be among the first to understand the risks and protect yourself before the hackers get to you.

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