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Near Field Communication

Connecting the World at Short Range

Steve Smith explains NFC is, what it can be used for, and how to avoid possible issues.

Episode #4-40 released on June 26, 2014

Near field communication, short for NFC, is everywhere from NFC tags, debit cards, credit cards, tablets, cellphones and more. Now, for the common person, it means nothing, you will use it without ever knowing what it is, and how it can be used, and today, I plan on explaining what it is, how to use it, and how to protect yourself from it, as well.

NFC is a form of Radio Frequency Identification. Both function at relatively close ranges and both can be detected at close range. This makes it easy to use and abuse.

In commerce, credit cards, debit cards, and other NFC enabled devices and tokens can be used to pay for a service or product at a NFC enabled contactless payment terminal.

This technology is further made easier to use by the proliferation of credit cards and debit cards coming by default with NFC tokens built-in. While it is easy to use, it is possible with a sensitive enough antenna to capture the transaction, so various commences have began using the option of encrypted NFC communication to enabled safer wireless payments using NFC. This, however, slows down the speed of the transaction.

NFC enables easy Pico networking creation by allowing two NFC enabled devices to pair together to transfer files over Bluetooth. This short range pairing makes Bluetooth network creation safer, because it becomes harder to capture the pairing information required to hack into the Bluetooth Piconet.

NFC tokens can, also, be used to replace bus tickets, passes, etc... reducing the waste in landfills by making passes and tickets reusable and re-loadable.

NFC tokens can, also, be used to allow NFC-enabled phones, tablets, computers, etc... to execute automated tasks. These tasks can include sending automated text messages, allowing specific applications to be loaded, any number of commands to be executed, and limitations are based on either the applications using, or targeted by the function, and the host device itself. There is some issues with the possibility for abuse by others who could bring such a token close enough to your NFC-enabled device to get undesirable tasks to be run, such as forcing your device to send text messages to paid services, etc... You could potentially have a target device create a Piconet through the use of an automated NFC encoded task, for the specific intent of transferring a contaminated file or program over to the target device and gain control over the device remotely after the initial contamination.

Now, the interesting part of this episode is the fact that there are plenty of things you can do to protect your cards, tokens, and NFC-enabled devices.

Don't use NFC on your phones, tablets, etc... go to the settings of your device, and turn off NFC. Don't worry, you can always turn it back on later.

As for NFC tokens and cards, it can be easily protected by placing them within an aluminum case or aluminum lined envelop. Watch my episode to see me demonstrate it works using aluminum paper, a NFC token, and a NFC enabled Nexus 7 tablet.

Host : Steve Smith | Music : Jonny Lee Hart | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions

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