Security Market Segment LS
Thursday, 03 August 2017 01:38

VIDEO interview: Armourcell stops NFC smartphone data theft, complements Armourcard


Armourcell uses NFC energy to deliver NFC jamming technology to protect data, complementing Armourcard, the first and only battery-powered RFID jamming card that creates a force field of protection for credit card, debit cards and passports.

First there was Armourcard, which I video interviewed its founder and chief executive, Tyler Harris about, back in early 2015, as you can see here, although a brand new video interview with Harris is embedded at the end of this article.

Since then, plastic cards with no batteries that passively protect your RFID “tap and go” cards have arrived on the market, and while they do deliver passive RFID scanning protection, which is absolutely and unquestionably better than nothing, they’re simply outclassed by active and patented protection that actively and electronically jams the 13.56MHz frequency which with credit cards, debit cards and ePassports communicate.

This same frequency is used by the NFC standard, and once this standard was finalised, Armourcell could be born.

It is “designed to protect smartphones from being exploited through the Near Field Communicate (NFC) feature which is found on most of today’s modern smartphones”, and “effectively closes the backdoor to mobile devices allowing consumers to control when the NFC feature can be used, ensuring only the owner has control and not a hacker".

Armourcell was created to “empower smartphone users with the ability to protect personal information comes in response to a marked increase in identity theft scams seen in Australia".

After all, according to the Australian Attorney-General’s Department, “the annual cost of identity crime in Australia is $2.2 billion. This includes the direct and indirect losses incurred by government agencies and individuals; and the cost of identity crimes recorded by police".

The aforementioned Harris, whose video interview is embedded below, “believes that as technology becomes more convenient, smartphones are becoming the new battleground for hackers and identity thieves".

Harris said: “It is no longer money alone that’s sought after by criminals but data in the form of photographs, bank details, company information and more. As Australians rely on smartphones to go about their personal and professional transactions, data stored on those devices is the new gold and smartphones will reshape the modern battlefield in the form of identity theft.”

He also notes that “the same RFID technology that hackers were using to skim credit cards over the past few years is found in smartphones. Convenient services like ‘Tap and Go’ and ePassports have made data sharing simple and efficient, but the technology is not without risk. The recent leak of the CIA’s Vault 7 exposed how vulnerable mobile devices are and how they can be exploited as spying tools".

Article continues below image, please read on!

Harris continues: “What many people don’t realise is that mobile phones can be penetrated through the NFC technology which is constantly on and emitting a signal. All it takes is for malicious code to be injected through the NFC feature on a smartphone and a hacker pushing out malicious RFID signal to a phone by the RFID chip, to get hold of passwords, photographs, and other personal information.

“This information can then be distributed or sold on the dark Web, bringing unnecessary grief and anxiety to families and individuals. With Armourcell, we are providing smartphone users peace of mind and protecting their data from being compromised. As identity theft becomes more sophisticated, technologies need to evolve in lockstep to protect consumers.”

Armourcell works by simply being stuck to the back of a mobile phone and discharging a jamming frequency that does not allow other devices to link with the NFC signal emitted from mobile phones.

The explanation continues, noting that “this prevents any risk of hackers planting malware on a device jamming the NFC feature until you want to use it safely. Users can momentarily deactivate the signal jamming technology by simply holding down the button on the back of the Armourcell to complete a transaction or NFC action, giving users the benefit and convenience of NFC tap and go technology without the security risks this technology poses".

Here is the original Armourcard – the video interview with Tyler Harris is below, please read on!

Both the original Armourcard to protect the cards in your wallet, and to protect ePassports, costs A$59.95. The Armourcell is the same price. More information on both can be found at the Armourcard website here.

Here’s my interview with Harris on both the newly white-coloured Armourcard, and the new Armourcell NFC smartphone protector too:

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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