Researchers demonstrate low-cost NFC eavesdropping device

Paper confirms some of the fears held by businesses about NFC technology

Near-field communication (NFC) aims to revolutionize mobile commerce, but just how close the technology is to becoming a widely adopted reality is unclear. Many questions remain around standards and security. Gartner for one noted that the technology has been slow to gain traction.

Now, a new paper highlights the concerns that have many businesses shying away from the technology. Researchers from the University of Surrey were able to retrieve sensitive data from contactless payment cards by hiding an antenna for wireless data theft in a shopping cart, says a paper published in The Journal of Engineering.

What's more, the data capture device is small enough to fit in a backpack and can be constructed from low-cost, easy-to-obtain electronics. The tool got "consistently good results" and "performed well across most distances" in scamming NFC payment information, the paper observes.

Violet Blue of ZDNet reports that researchers are finding contactless payment systems are more vulnerable than previously believed, even though they have been uncovering similar issues since 2008. "Yet making it easy and reliable was not a known quality until now," she writes.

For more:
- read the paper
- check out the ZDNet article

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