Anyone who won’t agree that technological advances have been arriving in leaps and bounds these days will probably be told they’ve had their head in the sand or something similar. If technological advances weren’t to the greater benefit of all of us they’d never get past the prototype stages, but with many of these advances come certain degrees of risk.
We’re all aware of how our increasing reliance on the digital world has made us more at risk of cyber fraud, and when it comes to cards many people have chosen to keep theirs in some sort of RFID sleeve that prevents card information from being scanned unwillingly. There’s all sorts of other examples of this sort of stuff, and we won’t stray too far off topic.
Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re like any other reputable Canadian web hosting provider in that we take an interest in any type of technology-related topic that might be of interest to the people who count on us for keeping their websites optimized and at-the-ready for visitors on the World Wide Web.
So today’s topic is smartcards, and what you can do to ensure any person who’s looking to steal your information from them is thwarted in their attempts to do so.
Completing a transaction, opening security systems, and achieving a whole array of other operations in this smart technology era can now be done with a simple swipe of a smartcard. They have continued to gain popularity over the world, and as you might then expect security attacks have become increasingly common as they target owners and users.
Fortunately, the right information on technology-based use and applications is usually made available to keep you one step ahead of any attack, and some of that is what we’ll be sharing with you here today.
For any of you who are not familiar with them, this is how smartcards work. They use microchip technology and secure authentication to provide purchasing security and are equal parts convenient, practical, and reliable for data transfer with transactions. Nonetheless, smart hackers have still worked out various ways of observing their operations and then setting their sights on gaining access to credentials, funds, and information contained in the microchips of the cards.
So here’s what you can do to ensure you can protect yourself from hackers and the continued safe use of your smartcards.
Ensure Full System Security
Should an attacker successfully gain access to a computer device connected with your smartcard, it unfortunately becomes fairly easy to use your card to complete transactions. Most of the time this breach is the result of unpatched software, or it may be due to the fact you’re running something you shouldn’t.
There’s nothing to be done about the fact that once attackers gain access to your computer device it becomes simple for them to authenticate transactions while assuming your identity through the card. This is usually done by copying digital certificates from your local cache if they’re available, or the hackers may be keying in your PIN at requests.
The most effective way to protect yourself here is to ensure you don’t get suckered into interacting with click baits. Start by ensuring the software you install is not compromised and that you regularly run anti-malware software on your computer.
Keep Your PIN Safe and Secure
We mentioned RFIDs above, but smartcards aren’t the same as RFID cards. RFIDs are programmed to produce specific codes once activated and are powered by a magnetic field while using radio frequencies to transmit data. Hackers are able to steal information from this kind of card by utilizing RFID proximity readers and then collecting IDs from cards that have been left unprotected.
Smartcards are different. They use Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) for protection, and have a memory that can store information and put forward a ‘challenge & response’ system when the card initiates a conversation with a transaction terminal. What this means is that before a transaction is completed you would need to provide your PIN at the terminal.
What you need to do here is physically protect your PIN and work with the understanding there may be an unseen individual who’s trying to access the information that’s locked behind it.
Guard Against Hacks From Transaction Terminals
Transaction terminals is where these hackers will typically stage their attacks, and if not protected your credentials can be obtained during communication between your card and payment terminals.
An effective way to enhance your safety precautions is to remove your cards as soon as you complete a payment submission. If possible, see to it that your payment terminals are standalone machines, and not ones where access other web services is possible.
Owners of such terminals will ideally take some responsibility to ensure software used on such terminals has all necessary patches implemented and ongoing fraud-prevention support. Terminal operators can run anti-malware software periodically. It’ll reveal attempts at hacking card credentials.
Use Mobile Phones Instead When Possible
For many people their mobile phone is already a payment gateway for them. Setting up your device for mobile payment and connecting it to a smartcard is a fairly straightforward process, and there’s no shortage of apps you can download and use to manage your payments.
Using apps is going to be safer than cards 90-plus percent of the time. Apps generate a one-time authentication code, and the ‘one-time’ part of that is key as it’s enabled for use only once for the current transaction before it comes entirely meaningless and ineffective for any function. It’s highly unlikely you’d lose this code to hackers, and even if you did it’d be of no use to them.
It’s good to know that using a smartphone means much less of a chance of having your card credentials stolen.
Most payment terminals equally accept scan payment using mobile phones, and you’re not limited by where your phone can serve.
Use Cards from Trusted Suppliers
The last thing we’ll share here is that where you obtain your cards is important too. There have been instances where staff members at companies have attempted to steal smartcard credentials. Others will have inadequate security measures for their cards.
Using smartcards provided by reputable, established, and trusted establishments will let you have less concerns about losing your card credentials.
Plus, it’s easy to mix cards up. If you’re not able to identify you cards on your own, that means fraudsters can take advantage of you that much more easily. Ensuring your name is on your card and unscripted with high print quality and durability is important. Lastly, make sure you destroy these cards first if you’re going to be disposing of them for any reason.