Switch approach to tackle skimming

Posted On 09 Oct 2013
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The potential fraud problems of data, money and identity theft from the use of RFID for Near Field Communications (NFC) in contactless access control, passports and credit cards has been well highlighted. Known as skimming, thieves can use easily available electronics or a smartphone to read the data on such devices without the user being aware of the attack. These contactless devices work by being waved over a reader and data is exchanged between the reader and the device. The problem comes from the fact that the devices are always on and ready to interact, even when in a wallet or bag. Peratech has developed a solution that overcomes this by incorporating an ultrathin switch into the credit card or other credential, so that it is always off unless the owner is actually pressing the switch to activate the device. This ensures that the owner has full control of when the data is accessed and by whom. ‘We could see that NFC had this fundamental flaw,’ stated David Lussey, Peratech’s CTO. ‘A number of card companies are now deploying contactless credit cards without protection that can have their details skimmed and used fraudulently so we expect problems to start becoming widespread.’ Peratech makes a very thin, pressure-sensitive switch using Quantum Tunnelling Composites (QTCs) technology. This acts as an on/off switch in the circuitry of the device and is robust enough to be laminated into the credentials during manufacture. Only when the switch is deliberately activated by the owner will the device become active, and it immediately turns off when the pressure is removed.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.