Experts Warn RFID Risks Outweigh Benefits
The growth of the now billion-dollar RFID business is prompting industry experts, from consumer advocates to company figures specializing in RFID protection, to question whether the technology can ever be made adequately secure.
Walt Augustinowicz, CEO of the RFID-protection company Identity Stronghold, distills concerns over Radio Frequency Identification to a simple tradeoff. Many retailers, he points out, are willing to exchange the security of your data for the convenience of RFID asset tracking and point-of-sale simplicity.
“RFID chips are basically tiny two-way radios that are so small they can fit inside a credit card, an article of clothing, the inside of a shampoo bottle cap, etc.,” he explains. The chip, essentially a transponder, carries identifying data and can be queried and read, or “sniffed,” at a distance. RFID technology is now in use in credit cards, ATM cards, “enhanced” driver’s licenses, highway toll networks, and inventory tracking systems.
“Wireless credit cards do seem to speed up paying for merchandise and eliminate magnetic stripe problems,” says Augustinowicz. “[RFID] also makes inventory tracking extremely easy, when you can simply turn on a scanner in your warehouse and have it instantly tell you if item XYZ is in stock. There are just endless possibilities for its use… if you are not worried about security.”
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