How to stop RFID scanners and Card Skimmers

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How to stop RFID scanners and Card Skimmers

RFID Scanning and Card Skimming is too easy these days. Tools as such can be easily purchased on Amazon, and almost anyone can use them maliciously. Individuals can put an RFID scanner in a back pack, walk around for a bit, go home, plug in their skimmer, and they can have a plethora of real credit card/debit card data at their fingertips. All they have to do to fraud your card is buy look a like cards, and reskim them onto the fake one. Or if they don’t want to do the physical damage themselves, they can go ahead and sell this data. But this isn’t only about credit cards, this is about all cards that put off an electronic signal. Other important cards that may want data from are greencards, passport data, gift cards, phones, security ID keys, electronic keys to get into buildings, any form of electronics keys, and so on. The list is never ending. But, if this data is so easily accessible how can I stop RFID scanners, or even card skimmers?

What are RFID Scanners or Card Skimmers, and how do they work?

RFID scanners are not the only physical tool that can be used maliciously. Card skimmers are currently on the rise too. Card skimmers are a device that someone will attach to an ATM (or anything that accepts digital cards, parking meters, vending machines, etc…), and it will steal your card data. Now it may sound like these are simple to spot, but they are usually delicately installed into these machines to spoof it. The ATM or whatever else will still work, and unknowingly you are handing your card data over. It will completely skim your card and steal all your data. You basically handed it your data unknowingly. These can be worse than RFID scanners because its almost like handing your card directly to the individual to write down the numbers and get away with it anonymously. RFID scanners work in a similar fashion. RFID scanners are actually scanners. They are usually a small (or large) device that someone can carry around in a backpack or briefcase, and scan electronic card signals next to it. A lot of the scanners require that you are very close to the individual, but that is no problem if the person is in an elevator next to you, at a coffee shop next to you, is standing by you in line, sitting with you on a bus, on a bench, or something similar. The RFID scanner can scan MANY cards in seconds (I don’t know the actual statistics), so the person only has to walk by you to get some data. Someone could walk around New York city, and data harvest the whole city unknowingly (its not exactly this easy, but they can obtain data very easily). As you can see, scanning your data isn’t hard at all. New age technology allows for faster management, even if that management is for malicious intent.

Whats more dangerous the RFID scanners or card skimmers?

It may be a personal opinion, but I believe an RFID scanner is a lot more deadly. Only because they can get your data whilst walking past you, instead of you actually having to make a transaction. They can also obtain more variety of cards, as you wouldn’t use a greencard at an ATM. RFID scanners can be very deadly, especially if hacked correctly to be used at long rang.

How to avoid or block RFID scanners

Avoiding RFID scanners is simple. I have personally tested most of the methods down below, and can confirm they work.

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1: Block-it Pocket (official website here) – The Block-it Pocket is a 2 pocket combo that has one pocket dedicated to blocking all signals, and another pocket dedicated to lowering radiation. The Block-it Pocket is a small pouch/pocket that has two pockets inside it. One pocket is to hold your phone, or other items that you don’t want to be RFID scanned (they state “No more damaging radiation while carrying your device, Provides Protection From EMPs, Protects RFID Passports, Credit Cards and Transponders, and it is Water Resistant.”). Another pocket is a pocket that you can stick other less valuables in that lowers radiation. I personally put my credit cards in the front pocket and attended DefCon for 4 days (a hacker convention). RFID scanners were everywhere, and none of my credit card data was stolen. This pocket works %100. I have had it for many months, and still use it everyday. The Block-it Pocket is my personal choice for blocking RFID scanners.

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Read our Block-it Pocket Review here!

2. RFID Blocking Wallets – Wallets that block RFID are great and secure to hold your valuables in, JUST BE SURE IT ACTUALLY WORKS! There are many fake RFID scanless wallets on the market. They claim they are stainless steal and lined with fancy material. The sad truth is, a lot of them are complete bogus. A lot of RFID blocking wallets do not work. I know from personal experience and friends. I have even seen videos of RFID scanners go right through these “RFID blocking wallets”. Just be sure you get a reliable one. Read reviews and whatnot. You can also test them yourself by leaving your smart phone on top the wallet for several days. Real RFID blockers will block all radiation, and the cards should stay magnetized. Again, be careful with your choice. The $5 option may not be the best. You may need to go a bit higher.

3. Tin foil – ONLY SOME versions of Tin foil will actually block RFID scanning. This method has an extremely low rate of actually working. I have read articles online explaining how it works, and debunking it. I am only listing this option as it is free, and should only be used in extremely rare circumstances. I have not done personal testing, and would not trust it with so many great products on the market.

How to avoid or block Card Skimmers

Avoiding card skimming can be extremely difficult, but can also be avoided with extreme ease.

1. BE SURE you are using a legitimate ATM – A new updated set of extremely skilled hackers have been setting up fake ATM machines. Hackers have been obtaining old, or building clone ATM machines. The machines look completely real, and actually do their job. They harvest your card data, your pin, and/or any personal information you put into the machine. The machines are very sophisticated, and meant to do real damage. Be sure you are using a bank certified ATM, or actually go inside a bank to avoid all possibilities.

2. Check for anything fishy around the card slot – Hackers may not go as far as to put up an ATM machine, but they can swap card readers out of ATM’s and parking meters to collect your data as well. The more popular method is putting a skimmer inside the cards reader, replacing the old reader, or actually just overlapping the card reader. Try and use your card as little as possible at parking meters, vending machines, or anywhere fishy. Not only do those machines have low security, they can be EASILY attached with malicious tools. Try and use cash and coins at places your don’t feel comfortable.

3. Go into your bank, and use cash wherever possible – To avoid all instances go into your bank to deposit, withdraw, or transfer any money, and use cash in places you don’t feel comfortable. Privacy and security are essential nowadays. Go into the bank whenever possible to deposit checks, cash, or do anything else related to money. Also, use coins, and cash at suspicious places. Parking meters and cabs are notorious for their completely garbage security, and are easily loaded up with ways to steal data. Cash is key for off the record, and secure purchases.

Overall

Its not hard to stop RFID scanners and card skimmers, its more of just begin careful. Today these tools are so easily set up, and anyone can get their hands on these items for a fair price. Its better to be knowledgeable to stop it, then to let it happen over and over again. If you know nothing on RFID scanning I recommended your watch this video


It talks about how RFID scanning works, and how easy it is. Its not hard to understand, and its extremely easy to learn and perform. The video is an excerpt from DefCon, and the speaker goes over how simple RFID scanning is, and how they tested it. They even made a long range RFID scanner and could scan and duplicate cards without getting very close to others. RFID scanners and card skimmers will slowly rise as they are not begin taken advantage of yet.

Protect yourself from RFID scanners with a Block-it Pocket here!

About Author

Brandon Stosh is the founder and CEO of www.freedomhacker.net. Stosh is a cyber security researcher and professional consultant who strives to provide reliable news on cyber-security based topics.

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