How Secure is NFC Technology ? Lets find out

NFC (Near Field Communication) has been there for a while now, but still it’s underrated technology. I remember, 2 years back when I first heard about NFC, I was excited to see it in every smartphone.

Related: NFC Technology: Things you should know about it

Sadly, NFC didn’t get the head-start that it needed. One major reason would be, lack of knowledge from our end. There are a lot of misconception about NFC. So in this article, I will clear some air about NFC security.

nfc payment is secure
Image Courtesy: nfcworld.com

What is NFC

NFC is similar technology like Bluetooth and WiFi that use radio communication for data transfer. But other than data transfer, you can also make payment from your mobile using NFC technology.

And this is why mobile phones are often terms as the electronic wallet. NFC enable you to make payment from a phone. No need to carry your wallet.

But considering the rise of cyber crime and credit card frauds, the first question that pops up in our mind, Is it really secure to use NFC payment?

The answer to this is,

Yes NFC is secure !! And here are 5 reason to support it.

1. Range of NFC

NFC is unique, because for it to work, you have to bring two device very close to each other. How close? Well in theory it’s said to be 10 cm or less but in practical situation it’s only 4 cm.

Now isn’t that uncomfortable close? Can you image a someone bringing his hacking tool ( like NFC reader) as close as few cm and still you can’t suspect it ! I don’t think so.

2. NFC work only when device is unlock

Let’s assume that the hacker manage to come close to you. And you didn’t suspect it. But again, for NFC to work your smartphone has to be unlocked. What are the odds of leaving your smartphone unlock, when not in use. People don’t do that.

Moreover it’s unlikely, that hacker manage to unlock your smartphone, without taking it away from you. But let say, they were successful. Now what.

3. NFC payment requires Secure element

To make mobile payment from NFC enable smartphone, the device should have special hardware called Secure element. It store details like account no, expiry date etc in secure from.

secure element is a tamper-resistant platform that can securely host applications and their confidential and cryptographic data in accordance with the rules and security requirements set forth by a set of well-identified trusted authorities.

Secure element stays isolated from the main memory, so limited predefined apps has access to it. So even if the hacker get access to your smartphones. It’s extremely difficult to pull out your financial details as it’s encrypted in that secure element.

4. Two Way authentication using PIN

To make mobile payment using NFC, one need app like Google wallet. App like these have their own way of authentication. First you need to unlock it using preset lock code and second to make transaction over certain limit (let say 80$), you have to enter PIN, that was giving to you while you install this app.

And the best part is contactless card or your smartphones don’t store PIN in them. So even if the hacker is somehow able to pull out your credit card details, he/she won’t have the PIN to complete the bigger transaction. This make sure that you are safe from bigger loss.

Moreover if someone can steal your smartphone/contactless cards, they can also steal cash from your pocket.

5. Smart tags can be made read only

Image Courtesy: prweb
Image Courtesy: prweb

NFC security is not limited to mobile payment. Another popular use of NFC, is in smart tags (or NFC tags). Which brings us to the question how secure are NFC tags?

By default NFC tags come rewritable. But you can make them read only.  This ensure others can’t tempered it.

For example if you want your NFC tags to always open a link to your website, you can make it read only. So that other can’t change the information written on it. Useful when using NFC Tags in public.

Future of mobile payment

future of nfc payment

This Question reminds me of time when credit/debit cards was first introduced. People were skeptical about it use. People doubt its security and predicted that it won’t work. And here we are now, using plastic card almost everyday. Same goes with NFC, people doubt its security but after seeing its benefits they will adopt this in future.

Conclusion

NFC is as secure as your credit and debit card. However if someone wants to get something badly, they can go all the way to get it. The only thing that you can do is, make it harder for them. So until it’s personal, they will leave you and move to some easy target.

Update your knowledge and increase the level of security, If you can do that, there is no need to worry when using mobile payment.

About Mrinal Saha

Mrinal is a tech geek who spends half of his day reading and writing about tech. While the nights are spent on shooting or editing YouTube videos. Feel free to geek out with him on-