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Frequently asked questions

Why are RFID cards and tags insecure?

1. Much of the information stored on RFID cards can be read by anyone with a cheap reader device. A security reseacher quotes on his website "it's quite practical to read someone's card without removing it from their wallet. A bit of deliberate clumsiness, a reader up my sleeve, and I would have little trouble cloning anyone's card."

2. The activation range of standard RFID tags can be extended significantly. This results in the ability to attack RFID technologies at greater distances. Two college students were able to extend the range to 69 feet (21m)!

3. Some RFID cards can be copied with minimal effort after being read by an attacker.

4. The encryption methods used by many RFID cards are proprietary. They often rely on security through obscurity. Reseachers have already exploited this design flaw and broken a real world system, and have shown how newly-issued RFID passports can be read by using easily-guessed information.

5. RFID technology can be used as a tracking mechanism. Even if personal data cannot be read or decrypted, each card is unique and can therefore be tracked in different locations just like a 'fingerprint'.

6. Several consumer privacy organizations have been concerned with insecurities and abuses of RFID technology. Some institutions have cut back usage of RFID technology because of the above concerns.

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