Pickpocketing just got a lot nerdier. Instead of having to master the art of deception and sleight-of-hand, hackers have found a new way to do it through the air.
Modern "wave-and-pay" credit cards (the ones that you don't have to swipe) work by transmitting credit card information by radio frequency identification.
All that hackers have to do is get a RFID card of their own.
There's a catch, though, and it's that hackers can only steal the information if they sneak the RFID reader within 6 inches of the card.
David Bryan, a security specialist at TrustWave, explained the only tools he needs to steal credit card information to Daily Mail:
It uses 13.56 Mhz to communicate with the card and the reader. In this instance, I used low power Embedded Linux Computer, and an easily purchasable RFID reader. This was then powered by a USB Battery, and stuck into a backpack.
After hackers get their hands on your credit card information, they can easily replicate it with a card writer that will run you about $300. So the cost of small-scale identity theft could be cheaper than you think.
Worst of all? Norton Antivirus security researchers claim that 70% of cards will be vulnerable to this kind of attack.
There's one way to stay safe, though, and that's to get an RFID-blocking wallet or bag. These bags keep the radio waves with your data in them locked in your wallet where they belong.