- Written by Nathan Drake
I wasn’t around when credit cards gained in popularity, or at least I wasn’t old enough to remember a world without them. I was in college in the 80s and getting a hold of mom and dad’s credit card for a party was within my reality as a student (especially since this was at a time before eStatements, when a parent wouldn’t find out about the unauthorized purchases for at least a month). I would imagine, though, that there were concerns with having a bank account or other important information attached to a plastic card. There may have even been privacy concerns.
That’s the way it is with any technology that requires your information. People inherently do not like to give away information about themselves, whether that be personal or financial information without knowing that they can trust completely the entity to whom they are giving it. Of course, there are some necessary evils we are presented with, giving our information to banks even as we hear of banks and other institutions being hacked and having the information harvested, but, for the most part, people are reluctant to do this.
The same is true with NFC. In order to get NFC to work on your phone, you will have to give your information to the chip through the app. This app is, like anything else on your phone, part of a network, and as Wikileaks and Anonymous have shown us, there is not a network in existence that cannot be hacked.
According to the report linked to in this article, there are, in addition to any firewalls constructed on the technical side, practical safeguards put in place as well. I like that you can only spend 15 pounds per purchase with NFC. I hope that once they develop a more secure network that that amount goes up, as there are many purchases I make on a fairly regular basis over the 23 or so dollar limit. But this does, like the article states, stop people from, even if they stole your phone, using the NFC for any major purposes. Of course, this doesn’t stop the appropriately talented and motivated person from hacking your phone and taking the information, but that level of talent and motivation is rare. The motivation to physically take something and benefit from the theft is, tragically, not so rare.
Developing a system that is completely secure may simply never happen. Consider the fact that, even if we continue to refer to NFC by the same name, the technology we use to implement it will inevitably change, creating new opportunities for convenience even as it creates new opportunities for hackers. What is nice to see in this article, however, is companies actually managing to show restraint in the interest of their customers (and, I imagine, their bottom line, as no one wants their name associated with a massive information leak).