By Maggie DeWitt
As smart cards proliferate in North America, Europe and Asia, so do the unintended transmission and theft of personal data—despite encryption technology. Research shows that a reading device with off-the-shelf components, and costing as little as $50, can intercept private information when passed near a handbag or wallet.
This month’s mystery product is the latest weapon in the war against virtual personal assault. Use the following clues to guess what the product is:
• It completely shields personal and financial information on a smart card’s memory chip.
• It is an innovative blend of materials resulting in an easy-to-print substrate.
• It is a small, lightweight product offering the protection of a portable steel vault.
mystery product revealed
National Envelope, Uniondale, N.Y., presents Smart Card Guard, a unique, cost-effective line of lightweight card sleeves and mailing envelopes that shield electronic information when mailed and carried in purses, wallets and pockets. The company developed the product by incorporating “Faraday cage” technology—a metallic barrier blocking electronic transmissions—within a lightweight, easy-to-print paper created specifically for National Envelope.
Personal data in the smart card’s embedded, integrated circuit is unable to be transmitted via radio frequency waves to any smart card reading device. “For individuals with smart cards, it’s like having your sensitive personal data in a portable lead vault,” said John Grymes, COO.
Smart Card Guard has undergone extensive testing by San Luis Obispo, California-based InfoGard Laboratories. Rigorous testing revealed the products prevented communication between enclosed smart cards and smart card readers from all leading manufacturers, even when placed directly onto the reader. (Contactless smart cards and readers use a 13.56 megahertz plus / minus 7 kilohertz frequency transmission standard—the standard used in the InfoGard tests.)
There are more than 27 million banking and payment smart cards in circulation in the United States, according to a May report from research firm Packaged Facts, Rockville, Md. In addition, the United States Department of State is expected to issue 17 million e-passports containing contactless smart card technology this year. Other smart cards include federal ID cards, refillable gift cards, payment cards, health insurance cards and drivers’ licenses.