Are NFC stickers safe?

NFC contactless technology is now widely used in applications and services. Like many people, you are probably wondering how safe this mode of data transmission is. Is the information stored in NFC tags and NFC stickers secure? What are the risks of hacking?

The short answer is yes, NFC contactless technology is safe. It’s also incredibly difficult to hack. Here are some NFC security basics you need to know:

  1. The NFC chip that’s inside your smartphone is designed so that it is not able to access other information stored in your device. You don’t have to worry that an NFC chip might autonomously receive data coming from your phone and send it off to other parties. It’s also impossible for people to read data on your smartphone by scanning the chip while passing by. That’s because the built-in chip is separated from other information on your smartphone.

  1. Even if they found a way to infect your smartphone with a virus that will allow them to partially read your NFC chip, it would still be incredibly difficult for hackers to do this. They would have to hold an NFC reader close to your phone (about 4cm), so they can’t do this without you noticing. Moreover, your phone’s NFC function deactivates when the phone is locked, making it unlikely for a hacker to read your data when passing by. The chip won’t even work while your phone is on standby.

  1. Use common sense when reading public NFC tags or NFC stickers. In theory, criminals may reprogram or corrupt tags by breaking their encryption and loading malicious code into their memory. For example, if you use your phone to read a ‘hacked’ tag or sticker on a movie poster that’s supposed to take you to the movie trailer, your phone may send information to the hacker’s device via a text message or similar communication service.

This is why it’s important to take a few precautions. Never tap any NFC tags that are not physically protected (usually behind plastic or glass). Those that are too easy to access are more prone to tampering. Should you decide to tap a tag, watch your phone so you can see exactly what actions are promoted. If something is suspicious, immediately cancel the action.

NFC certainly has plenty of promise, but like all digital tech, personal protection is important. Continue reading and educating yourself about NFC security to avoid any problems!