RFID& NFC: How Privacy and Security Could be Affected
We don't want to be alarmist, but in this age of CCTV cameras and high profile security checks at airports, it is perfectly feasible that you and I may be being monitored by computers. If not now, then maybe we will be in the future!
How? You may ask. Well there is a small piece of technology, which has been around for some time; the 50's to be precise, but is only now causing debate as it comes into wider use between supporters and groups concerned with our personal privacy and security.
Will We Benefit?Yes, it will benefit mankind, but it can also be used to spy on us, with regard to tracking everything we do. In fact, these devices can be used to track anything, such as objects, people and even our shopping habits. So what is it?
The Latest In “Contactless” Wireless Technology, RFID And NFCWell, actually there are two aspects to it. The technologies, respectively are named Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Near Field Communication (NFC).
Tags! Tags! Tags!Both technologies make use of small computer chips called "tags". These are so tiny they can be placed anywhere and are unobtrusive, hence they are also easy to hide! RFID and NFC tags use very similar technology. The difference is that the NFC tags are mainly used in mobile phones. NFC tags are usually more sophisticated than RFID as they also generate their own power and have their own internal programming, unlike RFID tags which are more passive.
The tags (both RFID and NFC) can hold small units of data such as an item number or other information. However, they can hold any kind of data, such as your name, address and age. This is where the technology can get personal, and cause concern amongst people, as we don't always know what has been stored about us on the tags.
You would normally find RFID tags embedded in goods you would buy from a shop like clothes or shoes. They are also used to track items in a few large organisations currently adopting the technology, such as the US military.
Some of the BenefitsSo what are the benefits? Well RFID tags are excellent for business, as a tracking mechanism for goods and documents, as they are transported across various parts of the organisation. They can also be used to store electronic signatures so the pen and paper could be obsolete. Obviously however, this also raises security concerns.
NFC enabled mobile phones may offer the best advantages at the moment. These are currently in the process of being “rolled out” by the mobile phone companies. Let us demonstrate an example to you. You want to buy something from a clothes store. You see something you like but it is not in your size. Now normally, you would ask an assistant to check if they have the item you want in stock at your requested size. This means that not only do you have to wait for the assistant to check the warehouse or the store computer, but you are left twiddling your thumbs!