RFID technology has taken over almost every aspect of our lives. It can see on our transportation cards, key cards, and credit cards. For the RFID cards we are using, I believe most people do not understand them. Knowing everything about RFID cards is very helpful in securing our information and property.
What is an RFID Card?
People can make RFID cards into plastic cards that match the size of a wallet. It has an intelligent chip embedded in its body. Cardholders can verify their authenticity by connecting with a card-authenticated security device.
RFID cards are often used to control who is allowed access to resources. The most common RFID cards we see are debit or credit cards.
According to the latest data from Thales Group’s MarketsandMarkets report, we can see that its use is continuing to grow. There are now more than 30 billion RFID cards in circulation. The market for RFID cards is predicted to reach $21 billion by 2023. Its future is bright.
RFID Card Working Principle
The RFID card uses an integrated chip inside. It encrypts data stored on the chip when connecting to the source. It’s not the same as swiping a card. RFID cards are contactless in the process of payment. Cardholders can pay quickly by simply tapping or waving their hands.
RFID cards can transact by entering the electromagnetic field range of the card reader. Payment details are transmitted to the merchant via radio waves. It promotes consumption and dramatically reduces the time consumers spend waiting to pay.
The popularity of COVID-19 also gives consumers and employees excellent security.
What are the Types of RFID Cards?
RFID cards can be classified according to the frequency band in which they communicate.
Low Frequency RFID Card ( LF )
It communicates mainly through the frequency of 125 KHz. It has a shorter reading range and thus higher security.
People usually use it for access control and identification, etc.
High Frequency RFID Card ( HF )
It is the most common one we see in our daily life. It uses a similar frequency to NFC. They both use 13.56MHz for communication.
It is mainly used in bus passes, access control, and contactless payment cards.
Ultra High Frequency RFID Card ( UHF)
It has a more excellent read range than the other two. It allows users to have access from a greater distance.
People will use it in toll booths, parking lots, gated communities, etc.
Regarding usage habits, it can be further divided into standard and shaped cards:
The standard card is the PVG card that we usually see. Usually, it has a size of 85.5*54*0.76mm. Non-standard size cards are all shaped cards.
Distinguished by the chip inside, it is divided into ID cards and IC cards:
ID card is mainly used for access control. It cannot store data and contains only an ID number.
It is used to brush the community access control or channel gates. IC card has stored value and security function.
It is usually used for rapid transit swipes, credit and debit cards, etc.
RFID Card Applications – Credit Cards
RFID credit card is a contactless card that uses RFID technology for secure payment. Instead of swiping or inserting the card into a machine, the RFID chip in the card sends payment information wirelessly to the reader. It differs from EMV credit cards, which are primarily used by inserting the card into a reader.
It uses the same communication protocol as Near Field Communication (NFC). They both follow the EMV Contactless Communication Protocol Specification (EMV CCPS).
RFID credit cards allow cardholders to complete transactions without touching the payment terminal. It requires only the wave of the card. The chip inside the RFID credit card is passive. It can only power through the card reader’s radio waves and complete the transaction.
Since its use does not require a signature or PIN input, it is subject to limits. Banks limit RFID credit cards to a maximum of $50 per transaction.
Many contactless payment technologies in real life use RFID. They include contactless payments like MasterCard’s PayPass and Visa’s payWave.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of RFID Credit Cards?
RFID cards are faster, more convenient, and more secure than regular chip and signature cards. It offers the same high level of payment protection as the other two types of cards.
We can also tie it to a smartphone. The cardholder can view payment history, deactivate it, and perform other operations from a specific cell phone. Especially its convenient transaction method of click-and-pay is convenient for people to travel. It can transact without touching, reducing the transfer of bacteria.
It also has a pronounced disadvantage. Criminals can steal cardholder information with the help of specific tools. These tools may be non-contact card data applications or RFID readers. However, this feasibility is very low, but not impossible to happen.
Are You Afraid of Losing RFID Card Information?
One of the significant RFID crimes in 2022 is RFID skimming. It mainly uses the RFID scanner to get close to you to complete the skimming behavior. It is easy and fast for criminals to use scanning technology to collect information on RFID microchips.
Usually, the theft of information is not smooth. Because It can’t get that close to you, the card reader must be within a few feet of the credit card to read the information. But in a crowded situation, anything is possible. In a crowded train or bus station, it’s easy for criminals to get close to you.
Fortunately, there is a limit to the amount of information they can access. The information criminals may obtain from an RFID credit card chip includes the card number and expiration date. The three security numbers on the back of the card are not accessible. It means that criminals are limited in what they can do.
How to Secure RFID Cards?
RFID cards are usually used in conjunction with a reader, and while RFID cards are easy to obtain, so is a reader. If someone is close enough to your card with a reader, it is easy to steal your payment information.
It is not so easy to steal success. The RFID card has a built-in protection function, significantly reducing the chance of being stolen. It may also mean that these RFID cards are as secure as the new EMV chips.
It is secure in two main ways. The first is proximity. It must be very close to the reader to transmit the information. You must tap or wave your card near the scanner to communicate. The second is the built-in protection feature. Your transaction code is one-time and can only use for unique transactions. It means that if bad actors try to take large sums of money from your account or access your personal information, it will be challenging to do so.
Of course, in addition to these built-in protection features. You also have several external protection options available.
You can purchase RFID shielded wallets to add extra protection to your cards. Most RFID shielded wallets are lined with some unique material. Assuming carbon fiber is used, it will block the transmission of radio waves. It will form a strong shield around the RFID card. It safeguards the RFID card from being read before it is taken out of the wallet.
You can choose to buy RFID jamming cards or devices. The device is the same size as a credit card. It will actively emit its RFID signal. These signals will interfere with undesirable elements when they try to steal your information.
You can make a foil shield. It is a cheap, easy, and very low-tech way to do this. All you need to do is place aluminum foil-wrapped paper around the RFID card. Because aluminum will interfere with most electronic signals, you can wrap the card in aluminum foil which is also helpful.
How to Choose the Best RFID Shielding Technology?
Information security is always the focus of attention. There are many shielding products on the market, but their technology is not all the same.
There are two main types of RFID shielding technology: passive and active.
A passive RFID shield is like a shield rooted in front of your RFID technology. It mainly absorbs or reflects the sudden incoming RFID signals from the outside world. Active RFID shield has a microchip embedded in its body. It will actively disrupt incoming radio waves from the outside world. It will interfere with the scanner’s proceeding.
Of course, it is best to use both technologies to protect your RFID card. If you plan to use RFID shield cards, you may consider the following points:
- The shielded card should have the ability to interfere actively with outside signals.
- It should be sized to match the size of the RFID card you use every day.
- A trusted manufacturer makes it.
- It can work without batteries.
- It works with NFC and RFID signals.
Innovations in contactless payments have made people’s lives increasingly convenient. RFID cards are a much more secure way to transact than the earlier swipe cards. During COVID-19, this security is not only data-based but also physical.