RFID- What Is It and Is It Safe?

RFID is a not-so-new technology that has been gaining some buzz and has people questioning if RFID is safe. People are wondering if we should be worried about RFID security? Or could it be that people are misinformed about this tricky tech?

Whats an RFID?

RFID stands for “radio-frequency identification” and is made up of two components. First, is the tag or label which contains a chip and antenna. The second component is a reader that receives the information from the tag and transfers the data to a computer. RFID tags work by transmitting data through electromagnetic radio waves that are picked up by the scanner.

To simplify, RFID tags are very similar to barcodes in that data from the tags are read by the reader and data is then stored in a database. There are a few major differences between barcoding and RFID like; RFID tags can be read outside the line-of-sight, RFID tags can hold a lot more data than barcodes, RFID is less likely to be damaged then barcodes, and RFID data can be updated digitally, unlike barcodes.

How are they using RFID?

Although RFID has been in use since World War II, RFID equipment and usage has grown tremendously. There are endless possibilities for RFID but right now they are mainly used for tracking and inventory management. Currently, RFID tags are used by businesses to place them on products to help keep track of their inventory. Even farmers now use RFID tags to track their livestock! RFID is implemented in many industries to perform all sorts of different tasks like:

  • Inventory management
  • Asset tracking
  • Personnel tracking
  • Controlling access to restricted areas
  • ID Badging
  • Supply chain management
  • Counterfeit prevention
  • Credit card payment
  • Passport identification

Can we trust RFID?

There is some concern about RFID because of the fact that RFID tags do not have an “off” switch which means they are always able to be read by a scanner. People are concerned about being tracked or a form of digital theft known as “RFID skimming.” RFID skimming is when a thief uses a scanner, which can be purchased online for a few hundred bucks, to scan the RFID tags on a persons credit card to then get the data to make their own purchases using stolen credit card information.

With this threat, companies have started to create RFID blocking products like wallets, card sleeves, bags, and clothing. Now buying these products may give people a sense of security which is fine, but some argue that RFID skimming is not a true threat. The argument made that RFID skimming is not a threat is because the data that can be read from credit cards and passports our encrypted and none of the information given off by the RFID is useful to criminals. nowadays, when you make a purchase with a credit card it transmits a one-time transaction code that’s encrypted. It doesn’t give your name or billing address, and the three-digit code on the back of your card that’s needed for online transactions.

I’m not saying you should or should not buy RFID blocking products because no one can put a price on a piece of mind.

What are your thoughts on RFID and RFID skimming?

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