NFC Security Vulnerability: How to Use NFC Technology Securely
Near Field Communication (NFC) is one of the rising technologies in many fields. You will likely come across this technology being used in mobile payments, access control, and more. Such wireless communication has made it convenient for people to handle different applications. And for that reason, we have seen a lot more people interested in it. However, is it secure?
The NFC security features make the technology suitable for certain applications, but you may also find that the technology still has vulnerabilities. We have to learn about them so that you know how best to keep the application safe.
What is NFC Security?
You are likely to come across multiple security features of NFC technology. These features are essential in safeguarding the integrity, authenticity, and confidentiality of the data being exchanged from one device to another. That is how the technology is used for mobile payments, access control, and transportation ticketing applications.
So, what are some of these NFC security features? Expect to come across features such as;
- Encryption is where that data is encrypted before it is transmitted from one device to another.
- There can be authentication to ensure that the initiating and receiving devices are supposed to have the transaction. Also, secure channels can be used to avoid compromising the data.
- Secure elements mean that dedicated hardware or software is being used in the NFC device to ensure they can store and process such sensitive information.
- Proximity limitations can also be a secure feature in disguise. This means that someone has to be close to making the devices work. So it can minimize cases of eavesdropping.
- Data integrity checks can be done between the devices. This ensures that the transmitted data is verified first and is not tampered with in any way.
- You can also come across secure messaging protocols such as LTS and SSL. This ensures that there is an additional security layer, which makes it even better in terms of securing the transaction.
What are the Security Vulnerabilities of NFC
Even though you would get that NFC is generally secure, you can also expect that the technology might face some security vulnerabilities. So, which are these vulnerabilities? We look at them in detail below.
Eavesdropping remains a common attack on NFC wireless technology. Even though the technology requires the devices to be within a few centimeters to communicate, this does not mean this kind of attack cannot happen.
An attacker with the right listening equipment can attack the communication between the two different NFC devices. Also, the type of NFC device can minimize the risk of eavesdropping. An example is that having a passive NFC device would make it hard for you to eavesdrop on the devices. You have to wait until the device is sending the data in active mode to eavesdrop on the communication.
2. Denial of Service Attacks
Wireless connections may also be subjected to denial of service attacks. This type of attack can include many things. For example, degradation of the wireless communication so that you have a complete loss of the NFC capability, and now you cannot use it.
This can be done by having a jamming device that targets the NFC devices in an area. Jamming disrupts the communication between the two different NFC devices, making it hard for them to communicate.
Sometimes, you could use an empty NFC tag. When the NFC device scans the tag, it will result in an error. This means it remains engaged while emitting this error, leading to a denial of service.
Phishing is when the attacker tries to obtain sensitive information such as credit card details or passwords by pretending to be a trustworthy entity in the communication channels. You might find it a common problem when dealing with NFC tags. Once the tag or device is affected, the information on it can be easily changed.
It is common to receive a message with a link that might look like coming from a legitimate source. However, the link might not be so trustworthy. As such, always make sure to counter check the information received from a random person before clicking on it.
4. Data Insertion
With data insertion, the aim is to insert a message into the exchanged message between the NFC devices. The attack is timed in the sense that once the message is released from the sender, it is intercepted and then altered before being sent to the receiver.
Some countermeasures can be put in place to ensure that this kind of attack is not successful. First, the answering device should be able to answer the sender device without a delay. This means the attacker does not get the time to intercept the message.
Also, the answering device should begin by listening to the channel when transmitting the data to detect any potential attack.
5. Relay Attack
You can also come across relay attacks when working with NFC devices. This is when an attacker tries to manipulate the NFC connection through relays. This is only possible in case one of the attack devices can support card emulation.
A good candidate would be a smartphone with an NFC feature enabled. This makes it the NFC technology to be on always. As a result, it makes the phone more vulnerable to relay attacks.
Mitigation Strategies to NFC Vulnerabilities
Most of the time, a lack of user awareness about such security pitfalls might make it hard to stay clear of the attacks. So, ensure there is enough information and education on using NFC devices and that people do not leave their NFC devices unattended.
Also, regular updates of the software running the devices is something you should do. Most updates come with security patches vital for addressing any security vulnerabilities that might have been discovered with time.
Ensure that the system also comes with a strong authentication mechanism. As such, only the authorized devices would participate in the NFC transactions. The result is reducing the risk of unauthorized access.
Encryption remains an important part of securing the NFC devices and communication channels. So, start by adding stronger encryption algorithms to ensure all the sensitive information is well protected at all times.
NFC remains a great piece of technology that will always have many applications. Most people need to understand how best to use it and make it work great for their application. Getting so much done with NFC devices is possible, and you can secure them better with the tips shared above. Keep them secure, and you will have the best devices to use for various applications.