Thanks to RFID technology, tin foil hats just aren't funny anymore. You thought your neighbour was crazy, but he was actually onto something now that RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) has become a highly popular method for data transfer. And with its ever increasing popularity, there are ever increasing nefarious individuals out there who want to exploit the information they can grab off of your RFID enabled cards. What makes this technology so enticing for enterprising criminals today is that the general public doesn't realize they have to hide their cards better, or if that's even a possible thing to do. A simple wallet doesn't block RFID from emitting your information to any reader looking for a hook. The good news? It is very possible and truly easy to block any outgoing radio waves from coming out of your wallet/handbag, you just need to know how. So, with the help of Beside-U, here's how.
What's does RFID mean to you?
While you might not be entirely sure how RFID and NFC (Near Field Communication) affects your daily life, you've most likely heard the terms "Tap & Go" and/or "Interac Flash" at some point, and might even have one of these credit/banking cards in your wallet right now. Its that little chip inside your credit and debit cards that lets you instantly purchase your coffee each morning without having to remember your super hard to remember PIN number before your third caffeine intake. If you magically tap your card onto a reader and have your purchase paid for instantly, you have an RFID enabled card. Have you ever needed to tap your work ID card to get you through a secure door or two? That quick tap you make with your ID card to get to the washroom means your card is chipped with RFID. Have one of those uber cool PRESTO cards for transit travel? Yep, they're RFID chipped as well.
Let's put it this way...
Leaving your RFID chipped cards unprotected is like leaving a sinfully sweet chocolate cake on the windowsill and not expecting anyone walking by to take it. (Side note: I spent an hour unsuccessfully looking for a "pie on the windowsill" image, and couldn't find exactly one. It would have been quicker going to Walmart, buy a pie, and taking my own pic at home! Ugh.)
The Current State of RFID Security
How safe do you feel, carrying your RFID enabled cards around without any kind of protection? Hackers are relentless. Some do it for the money, others try to simply prove the point that they can. But regardless of intent, if there is a way to make the public vulnerable through use of their much loved technology, someone is working on it. What I found while researching RFID security just this morning...
- Norton Security suggests that "this year 70 per cent of credit cards will be vulnerable to digital pick pocketing". (DailyMail.co.uk) Do you realize how many cards that is?? If you're trying to do the math, that's like (∞2 + 1)/1.43! This is why RFID enabled bank and credit cards have a zero-liability policy in place. These institutions recognize the ease of which their cards can be compromised. The biggest question though is exactly what can be compromised. I would assume to make a card viable, they would need to gain name, address, card number, etc. You can be unwittingly broadcasting a lot of information while waiting for your mislabeled coffee order, and not even realize the person standing next to you is trying to get more than just your phone number.
- You can get all the hacking tech you need to become an RFID-related criminal mastermind on ebay for under $20. (MakeUseOf.com)
- Presto cards can potentially be cloned. (ChrisWeber.me)
- Anyone can download a number of NFC readers onto your smartphone. By downloading NFC TagInfo by NXP, I was able to find out what software was being used (MIFARE DESFire EV1) to hold my information on my PRESTO card (possibly name/contact info, definitely my account number and balance.) While I don't have access to the key info just by looking up software info, someone familiar with the MIFARE DESFire EV1 software is one step closer to figuring out how to crack PRESTO cards and getting away with my transit cash.
- Beside-U handbags have RFID blocking technology built right in to give you piece of mind.
Beside-U Bags with RFID Guard
I recently got the chance to try out two beautiful bags from Beside-U. This company is relatively new to Canada; they've been in the market for two years now and going strong, which you can tell by just how fabulous their nylon bags are. When asked if I could review their bags, I was entirely excited to say yes, as a good portion of their bags have RFID guarded zipper pockets within. And Beside-U promises that all of their bags will have the RFID Guard feature in the near future. Current collections on their site that have RFID guards include: Endeavor, Creed, Cross, Nutopia, Tube Connection, though not all styles in these collections have the feature right at this moment. To find out if the bag you like has RFID, click on the Features tab on the bag's page for more information.
Here's a quick and cute video on how their RFID Guard zip pockets work.
Andover Tote in Brindle Grey
This baby has pockets! And MORE pockets! If you're a lover of pockets like I am, you will absolutely love this nylon tote. Honestly, there was one pocket I didn't notice for over a day! *swoon* I love it when my bag has sections that aren't readily noticeable. This tote is perfect to hold everything you could possibly need for a day trip. It carries my 15" laptop, with room to spare for whatever else I need to carry. Did I mention the pockets? Your away-office can be easily kept organized, so that you're not mixing business cards with pens with a multitude of power/charging cords and don't forget your mouse. I recently went to an event where I really needed my business cards at hand and I simply couldn't find them because they were stuck below my battery chargers. I wouldn't have had that problem if I had this tote with me instead! The spacious RFID Guard pocket is big enough to hold a trifold cheque-book wallet.
Odile Cross-Body in Black
This fun cross-body nylon purse is perfect for those adventurous trips across town, or if you simply need to stop by your local shop for milk. It is just big enough to hold all of your essentials, where the main pocket extends nicely with a longer zipper, so you're not losing anything in the bottom of this bag. It has little bits of flare on the outside for a stylish look for any occasion. And I love the hook on the inside to easily find your keys when needed. There has been a TON of frigid days in the past years, where I've had to search the bottom of my purse for my keys with no light, numb fingers, and a tired brain. With that red bit of string, my keys now come out in seconds which is such a relief!
Ready to WIN??
Beside-U has graciously provided TWO of their gorgeous bags as prizes for you to potentially win! How cool is that?!
Haleigh Dark Rose Beside-U Cross-Body bag with RFID Guard ($75 value)
This beautiful bag is an exclusive, not available to the general public. While Beside-U.ca does have Haleigh bags on their site, those do not have RFID Guards within right now. Be one of the first Canadians to own a Haleigh with a RFID Guard zipper pocket within!
Belmont Blue Depths Beside-U Backpack bag with RFID Guard ($122 value)
Another exclusive bag, not available on Beside-U.ca. While Belmont bags are available for purchase on Beside-U, you cannot order it in this fabulous Blue Depths hue.