NFC is a very common feature on modern smartphones. But many people don’t know whether they have NFC or not on their device. And some even don’t know what the heck NFC is. And how it can harm you? We will discuss the same in this guide.
First of all, what is NFC? And what it’s doing on your phone?
For your information, the full-form of NFC is Near-field Communication. As the name suggests, it connects the devices which are closer to each other physically. These days, most smartphones have NFC. It can be used to do some quick tasks, such as pairing your headphones to your device or simply for data transfer by bumping your device over other smartphone which has the same feature enabled.
Normally, it works in a range of few centimeters. So, you just have to get two devices very close to communicate. It is also helpful for online payments. You can just tap your device on an NFC-enabled reader to pay for anything.
NFC vs. RFID
RFID is quite similar to NFC. Most prepaid cards or contactless cards on public transports have RFID chips. So, what to know about RFID? How does it relate to NFC?
Radio Frequency Identification or RFID is also referred to as reader, tag or antenna and is used for a transmitter and receiver. Almost everything like ID cards of employees for access control and clothing tags in supermarkets use this technology. It is also used to track cars getting in and out of parking lot or chipping pets.
The problem is that this technology is not encrypted and it is not that secure. Hackers can easily use RFID skimmers to track RFID data from cards. They can easily steal data from items having RFID chips.
This is the reason why close sibling of RFID, NFC is considered better. It is encrypted. Hence, it is used for payments by Apple Pay and other apps for payment.
Why NFC is not completely safe?
As discussed, NFC is much secure as compared to RFID. But it doesn’t mean it is completely hack-proof. It was developed to make things easier, not for data safety. All you need to tap, bump or swipe your NFC-enabled smartphone against another phone or reader with NFC support. Both devices should be under the wireless range and NFC capable for the connection to be valid.
This is the loophole! You don’t need any login details or password or OTP. The connections are done automatically. It can cause some real trouble for you. Anyone can connect with your device by just bumping against it. It just takes a bump to catch any malware or virus.
How NFC Hack Works?
This type of wireless connection is so unsafe and vulnerable that even a bump could upload any malicious file, malware or virus that can infect your bumped phone. It works the same way that your PC opens a file automatically from the web. You just click on an infected link and it would automatically download the malware.
Once any infected app enters your phone and runs in the background, it can anonymously steal your credit card numbers and bank PINs for any hacker in another part of the world. It can even provide full access to an unauthorized user to read your texts, email, third-party app information and photos. The catch is that you will never know when NFC transfer was executed.
How to avoid it, then?
Well, the best way to avoid NFC hack is – DON’T Use NFC. There are ways to make contactless payments even more secure.
If you make payments using NFC with Google Wallet, turn on NFC only when it is needed. Yes, keep it turned off when not in use. It won’t deliver unwanted malware or apps to your smartphone due to accidental bumps.
When buying a new phone that has NFC, keep in mind that NFC is automatically enabled. So, all you need to do is to turn off NFC.