With contactless card payments growing in popularity, our personal data is increasingly at risk of interception by fraudsters. The RFID technology that allows them to function is not entirely secure and can be accessed by scanning devices that are freely available online. VAULTCARD™ is a credit-card-sized tool, which can be placed inside a wallet to block electromagnetic signals – guaranteeing protection against RFID theft, while still enabling the use of contactless payments.
Google the major banks in South Africa's name and "contactless card" to see the majestic rise in the use of this technology.
RFID stands for Radio-Frequency Identification Technology. A small chip and an antenna relay information from credit and debit cards to contactless scanners, serving the same purpose as a barcode or magnetic strip on the back of a card. Contactless payment cards are convenient as they don’t need to be in direct contact with the scanner to work and don’t require a PIN or signature. However, the long-range nature of the technology enables an RFID chip to be read from up to 20 feet away with a high-powered skimming device – compromising personal data.
Where RFID is used
RFID technology is used everywhere, from retail to banking, and across a variety of documents from identity cards to driving licenses. Most countries use RFID chips in passports, while several cities use the technology in public transport passes – London’s Oyster card is a key example. In addition, many businesses use RFID building access cards. Almost all credit and debit cards now carry contactless technology, which is also referred to as ExpressPay (American Express), payWave (Visa), PayPass (MasterCard), and Zip (Discover).
In addition, most RFID enabled credit or debit cards will carry the following sign:
Dangers of RFID technology
RFID enabled cards undoubtedly save time for consumers and organisations, but as they have become more common around the globe, significant security concerns have also emerged. Criminals can easily acquire equipment capable of accessing the data stored on your cards or passports from several metres away. Fraudsters can utilise this data to replicate credit cards, steal identities, or access secure buildings.
As awareness of RFID fraud has grown, an array of products have attempted to address security concerns. Most products are based on the principle of shielding the RFID card from electromagnetic waves by using metal foils. Yet this approach is susceptible to flaws due to the way electromagnetic waves travel. To ensure full protection, cards must be fully wrapped in steel foil with no gaps – but this is almost impossible to achieve. A typical wallet with metallic shielding can therefore only protect against low power reading devices and not at all angles.
VAULTCARD™ to the Rescue
VAULTCARD™ is a revolutionary product designed to solve these issues by protecting against all RFID skimming devices. When placed inside a wallet, or kept in a pocket alongside credit cards, the VAULTCARD™ device ensures absolute data safety. In fact, the higher the strength of the skimming equipment, the stronger VAULTCARD’s jamming signal will be – protecting you from even the most powerful of machines.
VAULTCARD switches on automatically when it senses an electromagnetic wave emitted by an RFID scanner. It responds to signal strengths one hundred times smaller than those required for contactless cards to function, and creates a sophisticated electromagnetic jamming signal that blocks RFID readers.
VAULTCARD's patent pending RFID protection technology is unique to contactless card safety devices and is based on highly sophisticated jamming signals frequently used by the military.
We have invested a great deal of time in research and development to create our final VAULTCARD™ prototype. Its unmatched protection utilises an extremely efficient design, which emits a complex jamming signal that completely shuts out any RFID communication.
We have summarised the key pros and cons of the most widely used RFID protection methods. As you can see, several products offer shielding but none are design focused, and they are generally not effective against powerful skimming devices. VAULTCARD™ provides secure protection while allowing you to keep your existing wallet that you know and love.
Here are the key benefits that make VAULTCARD™ so unique:
Place VAULTCARD™ in the middle of your wallet. All RFID enabled cards will be protected within 1.6 inches (4cm) of the VAULTCARD™, and cards can be placed on either side, offering protection inside wallets up to 8cm thick.
Contactless cards can still be used to pay for transactions in the normal way – just be sure the VAULTCARD™ is held 8 inches (20cm) away when making payments.
The key components of the VAULTCARD are the receiving and transmitting antennas and the jamming signal generator. Receiving antenna harnesses energy from RFID scanner. The stored energy is then used to power up the jamming signal generator and the transmitter circuitry. The resulting jamming signal is emitted by the transmitting antenna.
EFFICIENT ENERGY HARNESSING
In addition to a highly sophisticated jamming signal, VAULTCARD™ is extremely efficient in harnessing electromagnetic energy emitted by RFID scanners. This allows VAULTCARD™ to retransmit 1,000 times more power than RFID payment cards.
The table below represents laboratory test results of VAULTCARD™ and a typical RFID enabled credit card. For test purposes we used a popular 250mW NFC scanner with electric E-field shielded antenna (so the scanner only working mainly with magnetic H-field of Electromagnetic Field, diameter of magnetic antenna 45mm).
Another feature of VAULTCARD™ is that its emitted power is directly proportionate to the power of the scanning device, unlike RFID enabled credit cards. This guarantees that VAULTCARD™ stays extremely effective even against high-powered skimming devices.
OUTSTANDING PROTECTION IN NEAR FIELD
Due to the form factor of an antenna embedded in the credit card, RFID scanner and VAULTCARD™, the most critical area is the so-called near field zone (within 0-3 inches between credit card and RFID reader). Our team has focused on ensuring that VAULTCARD™ can be used not only against far field scanning devices, but is also extremely effective in the near field.