Radio Frequency ID, or RFID is a technology widely used in logistics and transportation management so they know how many of what kinds of products are going where in real time. An RFID chipped tag is attached to a box or crate, for example, and every time it passes a scanner, it automatically transmits specific information codes that tells the scanner what’s inside, and other information like where it’s supposed to be going.
RFID technology has also been implemented on a number of credit cards so you can swipe your card without having to actually touch the payment point of service device. This technology is rapidly finding more and more uses to make convenience and efficiency as key features into a surprising amount of what we do, see, and eat on an everyday basis as consumers.
The problem is that crooks now use it as an ever increasingly convenient way to track, steal, and hack into our most valuable assets and our most vulnerable targets.
Combined with the new marketing dream-child, Geofencing, the speed, range, and scope of opportunities and risks is quite literally growing at exponential rates.
We’ve seen on TV crime dramas showing someone walking down the street with a credit card skimmer stealing credit card information using RFID technology already, as that’s been going on now for a remarkably long time. What you haven’t been told about are the risks of stationary hidden skimmers that leverage RFID skimming with Geofencing offers so they can specifically target and attract their ideal prey to their stationary skimmers where they either leverage local wifi signals or manually collect the data during nearly impossible to predict or identify collection periods before moving on to other locations and incentives to draw out their next targets. Later, at their leisure, they can research and create as many new identities, credit card clones, and secured documents as they wish, with literally no apparent patter on timeline that law enforcement can point to to leverage for clues.
Likewise for brick and mortar businesses, RFID and Geofencing can prove invaluable to bringing in new clients or rewarding returning clients or for rewarding referral business too. From tracking user and buyer activity after and before sales, businesses can start identifying common patterns of use and behavior so they can partner with other businesses to lure more repeat business, or so they can better incentivize their Avatar clients to keep coming back.
That kind of information can then be used to develop or source new products that better meet the needs of their customers, resulting in ever greater customer loyalty and customer lifetime value. In the end, everyone can benefit from it, but there are also privacy concerns that lead to security concerns and personal risks that evolve from it as well. Imagine an ex-spouse or partner with a vindictive streak happens to work for a company that uses these tools to track their preferred customers, and the victim (former spouse) now is being tracked even if they’ve changed phone numbers, address, and other key ID methods. Now the person they’re hiding from still tracks their every movement because they happen to like a certain brand of brick and mortar store. The store may have outlets nationwide, so now there is almost nowhere they can move and still not find their ex waiting for them for some form of confrontation. The risks here can be enormous.
The benefits of RFID technology and Geofencing are so unavoidable that they’re both here to stay, the question is how to focus on enhancing their benefits while reducing our risks, both individually and organizationally.