Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Microsoft Surface and RFID = Feer?

When Wal-Mart debuted RFID with HP, people were afraid that the printer boxes at Wal-Mart had embedded RFID chips that would allow Wal-Mart to track where you lived.  Maybe they were afraid the ghost of Sam Walton would come and get them, or knock down their house and put up a mega mart.  Of course, they didn't realize that you need to be a few feet from the chips, and have a mega-expensive reader, and Wal-Mart probably has all the information they need on you from Visa anyway.  Heck, they're probably watching you right now with their Wal-Mart satellite network.  Google is slowly catching up, providing near realtime photos of your house.  (If near realtime is a few months or years old.)

The more concerning problem is when RFID or a similar technology comes to Joe's Gas Bar and, simply by walking in the door, Joe's buddies have access to every piece of magnetic information in your wallet.  How about if they drop this technology in between the doors at your local bank? 

Well, unless your card has RFID (which it probably doesn't yet) or is Bluetooth-Enabled (it probably wouldn't fit in your wallet if it is) then they would need to swipe it with a magnetic card reader.

What information is on a magnetic card?

Unlike an old eight-track tape, the magnetic card contains only 1-3 tracks, and anywhere from 40 - 107 characters per track.  Sounds like something out of the 1960's.  (Hey, it is!)

One blogger things Microsoft Surface may allow this type of theft, simply by dropping your purse or wallet on the table.

A more pressing problem, though, is technology rape. Surface seems like a whole new way to bring identity theft front and center. I imagine that if this device can read a hotel key card, it makes me wonder if it could be programmed to read my credit cards. I can already see myself unknowingly sitting my purse on the table in a hotel only to find that everything electronic has now been scanned by the table and is in the hands of any person who comes to touch the table next. In an instant I have been abused by what I thought was a seemingly innocent piece of furniture.

Source: innovation + creativity at Fast Company Now

I think he can relax for now... that is until Smart Cards become prevalent, then he'll have to make himself a Guerilla Zapper.

Hmm... that Smart Card article was written in 2002.  Oh wait, they're already here? According to Visa, "they are the future of payments."

And now there's over 238 million of them.

So is this a problem?  Probably not with Surface.  MS is using Bluetooth and Wifi.  (Though in the future they may use RFID... then watch out!)

What I'm afraid of is when MS enables RFID, and then someone like these guys from Taiwan implements the Microsoft Extended Surface Scanner for Eating. (MESSE for short.)

How the heck are you going to keep your $5,000 kitchen table clean, scratch free, and safe from identity thieves then?

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