RFID passports raise security fears

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RFID passports raise security fears

Information stored on RFID is at risk from skimmers, says security firm.

The US State Department plans to issue over 15 million electronic passports in 2007 using an embedded RFID chip to transmit personal information to RFID readers at checkpoints.

But recent security concerns have overshadowed the effectiveness and security of RFID for this purpose.

Paraben Corporation, a specialist in handheld and cellphone forensics, believes that the information stored on RFID is at risk and has released a product designed to block RFID signals associated with e-passports.

Paraben's Passport StrongHold Bags utilise the principles of a Faraday Cage to completely block the RFID chip from transmitting while the passport is in the 'cage'.

The design secures anything placed in the bag from transmitting a signal where it can be read by prying scans. By completely enclosing the entire passport, risks from information skimmers are eliminated.

"RFID technology is currently used in common everyday devices like credit cards, toll tags, food packaging and consumer devices. Any technology that can transmit personal data needs to be secured," the company said.

The design is a combination of a folding bag secured with Velcro along with a tri-woven nickel, copper and silver material.

"The process of using the bag is simple. When the passport is in the bag, no signal will escape. When you go through a passport checkpoint, simply remove the passport and then place it in the bag again when finished," the company explained.

"The passport bag can even be used for protection of RFID credit cards, being just large enough for a wallet."
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