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Radio chips in credit cards Gas station chip kill Sara Wallace opened her mail and found her new company credit card. Sara was the operations director of MOAT Transport, LLC, and was excited to get her new business card. She was on her way from the office to the gas station to fill up the company truck and go check out the new cross-docking warehouse. Although Sara was excited about the new card, she was skeptical about using it, because it was one of those new Scan-N-Go cards, containing some kind of radio frequency chip. Sara got out of the truck, turned to the gas pump, and held out the credit card in front of the Scan-N-Go scanner. The scanner immediately beeped and the small computer screen displayed the message, “Sara, welcome to Strickland’s Gas Station. Would you like a car wash today with your purchase? Push Yes if you would.” Sara looked at the screen for a few seconds, looked at the card, and then placed the card on the ground and stomped on it with her work boots. Later, she told her boss, Will, “I stomped on it 10 times, and then held it up to the scanner.” The gas pump was silent; the computer screen was silent. Satisfied, Sara told Will that she then used the credit card in the card reader the way she had always done. She said, “I killed the card. Well, I killed that radio chip inside.”

RF dollar block Ashley had been reading the magazine and newspaper accounts of these RFID tags that would be used inside your credit and debit cards. She read that soon every card would have one of these little chips embedded inside. The reports of these smart cards were that you could still use the cards with a card reader as before, but now all you had to do was pass the card in front of a scanner in RFID reader and your purchase would be made automatically. Ashley had also just received her new passport. She was not very pleased to now have one of those RFID chips inside her passport any more than she was about credit cards being able to be read by some simple radio frequency device. She had recently run across a story on the Internet about companies that were against RFID, which pleased Ashley. She wanted to do something besides just be against RFID.

Ashley also ran a small, yet profitable, Internet business, selling helpful hints to housewives stuck at home with the kids. Ashley was one of those moms stuck most of the time in the house raising her two very young daughters. From her home in Virginia, Ashley had been selling small hand wipes for moms across the world, along with a recipe on how to make them at home. Ashley had many helpful cost-saving tips. And, after 6 years of this small business venture, she had a large following of mothers across the world, from the U.K. to Australia and all across the United States. Ashley wondered if these other mothers felt the same way she did. So without much thought, she wrote a note about how she felt and sent it to her mailing list. By nightfall, after the kids were in bed, Ashley again looked at her computer. What she saw was amazing. There were over 500 e-mails waiting to be read with the same reference subject, “What about these RFID tags?” Ashley stopped reading and responding to the e-mails shortly after midnight; she had to get some sleep. But the
response was overwhelming. By morning, Ashley had another of her brilliant, yet untried ideas. She would cut a piece of aluminum foil, add some stickers on it, laminate it and stick it in her wallet. She had read that her passport had a similar foil lining to stop people from unauthorized reading of passports. So, why not make a fake dollar bill-sized foil and place it in your wallet? It would fold around your credit cards and no one could read it, except when you took it out of your wallet to use. Would it work? Ashley did not really know. Ashley decided to post this idea to her e-mail friends, and she would sell it for $3.00. So, she spent a minute taking a digital picture of her creation, posted it in a new flyer, and sent it out to all on her e-mail list. The rest of the story is history. After only 1 month, Ashley received over 100 envelopes per day in the mail, each with $3.00, $6.00, or $9.00. A few have $15.00 in each envelope.

Case study analysis
What kind of RF safety and security safeguards should be built in to credit cards, passports, and other personal identification tags?
What are the major credit card companies doing to keep the use of RFID chip credit cards from being seen as a threat?
How could criminals exploit this fear of credit cards with RFID chips?

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