Can NFC Be Hacked?

Short for Near-Field Communication, NFC is fast emerging as a preferred way for contactless payments. As the tech becomes cheaper and even entry-level smartphones start to have it, NFC usage is expected to increase in a significant manner. NFC is really convenient, as it does away with the need to carry physical credit / debit cards. NFC can also be used to share info with other people and for authorization / authentication purposes. NFC can make your smartphone your wallet, your identity card, your house key and a means to quickly share info with others.

However, just like most other technologies, there are concerns about NFC. Many people still do not consider it safe, which is limiting its widespread usage. It makes us wonder how secure is NFC. And can anyone hack NFC? Well, it may vary based on whether the user is following NFC usage guidelines or not. Irrespective of that, here are some security features of NFC that make it quite safe.

Short range – NFC is a radio communication platform, something similar to other technologies like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. One of the best security features of NFC is that it has extremely short range, around an inch or so. This makes it extremely hard for anyone trying to steal your NFC information. Even in a crowded place, the chances of digital pickpocketing are quite remote.

Tokenization – Your data in NFC is stored in encrypted format. When you make a payment, the data is converted into a token and it can only be read by authorized servers. If anyone else manages to skim that data, they will just see some numbers that won’t be of any use to them.

Unlocked screen – In most phones, NFC will not work if the screen is locked. This adds another layer of security for NFC transactions. If your smartphone is protected by password, fingerprint, PIN or facial recognition, you can be rest assured that your NFC data won’t get hacked. However, there may be option in some phones to allow NFC to work even when the screen is locked. You can choose based on your requirement and the level of security you are targeting.

On/Off – Most phones will have the option to turn NFC On or Off. You can choose to turn it on only when you are about to make a contactless payment. However, people may tend to forget turning Off the NFC, which is exactly where security risks increase.

Sensitive to direction – Your NFC-enabled smartphone has to be placed at a precise angle to make it work. This makes it difficult for hackers to skim your NFC data.

Transaction limit – To limit financial loss, you can set a limit for NFC payments. You can set per transaction limit and per day limit for NFC transactions. This will reduce financial loss, even if your NFC data is compromised.

It’s quite clear that NFC is quite safe and secure. Just make sure you follow the basic usage and security guidelines, as discussed above.

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