Nowadays, someone doesn’t have to steal your wallet to get at what’s inside of it…
We are living in a time where human beings are becoming encrypted, everyday life now hinging on invisible data. While technology and its integration into our lives are accelerating at a rapid pace, the regulations and security available to protect all of our data are still lagging massively behind. Most people aren’t even conscious of all the complex ways in which their data can be stolen, and when it is stolen, it often goes undetected.
"Remember when you got your new debit card and it had a little chip in it? Maybe a small icon that looks like a Wi-Fi symbol on its side? That’s RFID."
An example of this is RFID technology, or ‘radio frequency identification’; a new method of data tracking that most would be surprised to learn is sitting in their pocket or purse right now. It’s what allows you to pay for things by touching or holding your card near a card reader or ATM, often known as contactless payments, and almost every single new card produced has one. The chip holds all your cards data and is able to communicate with the card reader using special radio waves that encrypt and transmit the information needed for the transaction. Cards are obviously a step-up security-wise from the days of gold buried in the yard or bills stuffed in the mattress, but no matter how protected, wherever there’s money to be spent there’s money to be stolen. Credit card fraud has been around almost as long as credit cards and it accounts for losses of over 16 billion in the USA alone in 2017.
But how is card fraud actually done?
One of the newest and most popular ways is by stealing the data stored in the RFID chips in your credit or debit cards. Once stolen, this data can be used to purchase things online, access bank accounts and even produce a clone of your card. The idea of your bank data being hacked is unsettling, but the ease with which it can be done is what makes it really scary. Since this technology works remotely using radio waves, RFID skimming can happen in a second without your wallet or cards ever being touched, even if you have the most secure wallet. All it takes is for a small handheld device, or even a smartphone with the necessary adjustments to be held close to your card for a couple seconds and bam, your card data is stolen.
But how big of a risk is this form of fraud?
Even though many will say that having your data stolen via RFID scanning isn’t a big risk, it is already a booming business in the United States alone, and this is only the recorded data. One American study found that “despite the efforts of the industry, fraudsters successfully adapted to net two million more victims this year with the amount fraudsters took rising by nearly one billion dollars to $16 billion.” Meanwhile, in the UK, the organization Financial Fraud Action (FFA) in another study found that “3.6 pounds in every 100 pounds spent using a contactless card is stolen”.
So how do you protect your card data from being stolen right out from under your nose?You could stop bringing your cards with you in crowded public places, you could choose to only use cash from now on, or you could invest in a secure wallet, (otherwise known as a security wallet or a safe wallet). Radio waves can’t travel through every material, making specific kinds of metal act like a force field around your cards, not allowing the radio waves to come in or out. An RFID safe wallet can be made in many ways, with many different materials, but the metal that works best for producing an impenetrable faraday cage hidden inside a travel security wallet is good old basic aluminium. At Ekster, we aim for the best travel wallet security by using top grade aluminium to build the space where your cards fit in, so they are always protected. Having the best secure wallet is important, but not without the scan safe wallet actually looking good. That’s why in our men’s security wallets we designed the aluminium of the cardholder to be as thin as possible while still retaining its strength and ability to block RFID scans. That way, we can fit the safe wallet case inside of a beautiful top-grade leather exterior. Your travel safe wallet doesn’t need to be an actual safe; security can also be slim and elegant.