How safe it is to use no contact technology

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More and more businesses in Chile and around the world allow the “no contact” or “contactless” payment technology. This facilitates faster purchases and payments without losing sight of the card.

However, there are several myths and fears that people have to use this technology, despite having the same protection of the banks which with a conventional card.

How safe is this method of payment?

According to a BBC article, hacking or shopping without our permission is difficult, but not impossible.

Miguel Herrero, of the Department of cybersecurity of the Council of the European Union, explains: “in the laboratory, under ideal conditions, cards can be cloned according to the purpose and type of technology it incorporates.”

“Experience tells us that the transmission made in a payment is a slow process (between 5 and 10 seconds) and the card has to be attached to the reader to make everything work,” he says.

Therefore, a possible device to hack the signal must be located very close to the card and it should be immobile. According to the expert, the communication that is established is very sensitive to movements and the transmission would be cut.

Is it possible that they charge you without realizing it?

That’s a threat that’s not real. We must avoid unfounded fear without any basis, says Ricardo J. Rodríguez, a researcher at the Aragon Institute of Engineering Research (I3A) and a professor at the University Center for Defense-Zaragoza, both in Spain.

Specialists interviewed by the BBC agree that it is unlikely that they will clone our data when the card is inside our pocket, wallet or purse or wallet. This means that the technology without contact is no less secure than using any other card.

In addition, banks do not currently include the name of the holder or the card number encrypted on the chip, and are only printed on plastic. This means that when a purchase is made, the transmission no longer includes the name of the card owner.

“However only with this information can Fraud be committed, buying online in some online stores like Amazon,” says Rodrigo Ríos Gigogne of Dreamlab Technologies AG, a company specializing in cyber security.

What’s the danger then?

What can happen is that some malicious application on our phone steals the card data via wifi or bluetooth, when it is near the phone.

And then it becomes possible to “steal” money from a remote contactless card or to use your data fraudulently, writes This Professor Rodriguez. To combat this, the main thing is to be careful with the applications we download. But there are two more elements that can help us take care of our non-contact payment systems.

Extra precautions

Specialists consulted by BBC agree that aluminum wallets that have become so popular are extra care for our contact-free cards.

These types of wallets made of a conductive material such as aluminum prevent cards from being activated and therefore read. It is based on a physical phenomenon called Faraday Cage. It is an effective protection, although sometimes unethical, believes Herrero.

The same principle for cutting transmission has another product that has been gaining popularity: radio frequency inhibitor cards. These are placed next to the others we carry in our wallet. Its use prevents “foreign” electromagnetic signals from arriving and the plastic information can be read.

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