Skimming is a form of card fraud where an attacker uses a reader to steal the card information on a card. The risk of skimming has increased as more and more stores have begun introducing so-called contactless cards as payment methods. The reason why companies focus on contactless cards is that they speed up the payment process, as the cards do not require a pin at the card terminal. Instead, it is sufficient to hold the card next to the payment terminal for the transaction to go through.
The technique used in contactless card is RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and it is also used in card readers to enter buildings. Many people use this type of card or key fob to enter workplaces or homes.
What is new is just the use of RFID technology in debit cards. Users do not know that the cards are less secure and that there is therefore a risk that someone could skim them.
How users can protect themselves
In the new contactless bank cards there is an RFID chip that transmits information wirelessly. Today, approximately 15-20 percent of all bank cards are equipped with an RFID chip, and card manufacturers expect that within 1-2 years the figure will rise to 50 percent. “Users can protect their cards with a so-called RFID Shield, a card that blocks the RFID signal,” says Ann-Christin Barck, product expert at the identity and security company Nexus Group.
The blocking card, Nexus RFID Shield, is placed in the wallet or pocket and blocks the signal from the reader, i.e. the signal does not reach the RFID card/debit card. The Nexus RFID Shield has the same size and shape as a regular bank card, but is somewhat stronger. It does not damage magnetic stripes or other technology found on the user’s various cards, and the closer the user keeps the blocking card to their other cards, the better.