NFC has a dubious history with security
NFC technology has been attracting a lot of attention for some time. The technology is quite simple in that it is capable of facilitating the transfer of digital information over short distances. NFC is most commonly seen in the mobile commerce field and therein has attracted the majority of its support. It is in the mobile commerce sector that questions regarding the safety of NFC came to prominence. Because NFC deals with the financial information of consumers in the mobile sector, the technology’s capabilities to protect this information have become a serious issue.
The security issues of NFC are difficult to grasp in many cases. NFC itself is simply a collection of standards and concepts that govern the wireless transmission of digital information over short distanced. As such, NFC standards have little need for security features and these standards are conceptual rather than physical. NFC technology, however, has had a dubious history when it comes to security.
NFC technology does not boast of any inherent security features. As such, it can be exploited by hackers and malicious groups with relative ease. Practices such as “eavesdropping” are becoming more common where NFC is utilized. Eavesdropping involves the “listening in” to NFC transactions. Through eavesdropping, a hacker can access a person’s financial information and use this information for a variety of purposes. Data corruption and manipulation is also becoming more common. NFC does not only deal in the trafficking of financial information and other forms of data are susceptible to exploitation by those that can take advantage of the lackluster security inherent in NFC technology itself.
Mobile services may be at fault
Security problems concerning NFC are often misdirected toward the technology itself when a more significant problem may exist in the lack of security in mobile commerce platforms and certain mobile applications. Mobile commerce services that are not protected by security software are at risk of exploitation and those consumers that make use of these services could have their personal information stolen. Google Wallet, which has become a somewhat popular mobile commerce platform, experienced serious security problems in the early days of its launch. Many of these problems were attributed to its use of NFC technology, but the platform itself had only a modest level of protection that hackers were easily able to circumvent. Notably, Google has moved away from the use of NFC technology with its Wallet platform.
Whether NFC technology is safe is a difficult question to answer. A better question may be whether or not mobile applications and services are safe enough to be used alongside NFC technology.