What is RFID? Is RFID protection necessary in 2024?

It’s always important to understand the various types of technology around us. One of these technologies is RFID, or Radio-Frequency Identification, which has made its way into our payment cards. But what exactly is RFID, and do you need RFID protection in your wallet?

RFID protection. Is it needed?

What is RFID and RFID Blocking?

RFID stands for “Radio Frequency Identification” and is a technology that uses radio waves to identify people and objects. It is widely used, including in cashless and contactless payment systems in stores worldwide. RFID tags, small chip devices, are embedded in products like credit cards or Apple Watches and are read by RFID readers during payment. Watch this video to learn more about RFID and how it works.

Contactless payment can raise skepticism and concern. Can a stranger read and steal your bank information via skimming attacks, where hackers withdraw money from your card with an RFID scanner by being close to you or passing by?

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How can you protect yourself against RFID theft?

There are several RFID-blocking products available on the market, such as wallets, sleeves, and pockets. RFID blocking is a technology designed to protect against skimming attacks, where hackers could theoretically steal bank information via RFID reading. This is typically achieved by embedding an aluminum or carbon fiber layer in the products, creating a barrier against skimming attempts.

Do You Need RFID Protection in Your Wallet?

Studies indicate that the risk of skimming attacks is minimal, as credit card abuse often results from card loss or physical theft, not RFID scanning. Additionally, the thief must physically get very close to the wallet/card for the scan to even work, and when several contactless cards are together, the scanner usually cannot differentiate between them.

Although RFID blocking can be effective, the need for protection against skimming is limited by the current lack of technological means among cybercriminals.

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Do RFID Wallets Work?

According to experts, the answer is not entirely positive. They point out that the effectiveness of RFID wallets varies, and it is not always a guarantee of protection. A test conducted by Consumer Reports in collaboration with security experts revealed that none of the 10 tested RFID wallets and shields could completely block radio transmissions from RFID chips. There was also a significant difference in effectiveness between different brands and even between products from the same manufacturer. Surprisingly, the test showed that a homemade shield made of duct tape and aluminum foil actually provided more reliable protection for RFID smart cards than 8 out of the 10 commercially available products.

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Are Nordform Wallets RFID-Protected?

At Nordform, we have decided not to include RFID protection in our wallets for several reasons. First, the chance of RFID theft is generally very low. Secondly, RFID chips only transmit the card number, while other necessary information such as CVC and expiration date cannot be scanned. Skimming attacks require the thief to be physically close to the wallet or card, making it more risky and difficult to execute. Furthermore, a scanner may have trouble differentiating the cards if several contactless cards are together.

By opting out of RFID protection, we can offer our wallets at a more attractive price for our customers. We believe in being transparent about the actual risks of the technology, prioritising customer satisfaction and affordable solutions, and creating a better understanding of RFID technology’s impact. This way, we can help our customers make informed choices about security and price.

Are you looking for a new wallet? We have created a guide to various criteria you should consider when hunting for a new wallet. You can find the post here.