Showing posts with label RFID. Show all posts
Showing posts with label RFID. Show all posts

May 20, 2016

Chip Credit Cards

My ever curious friend, Jeff asked if I thought the new chip cards were more secure than the magnetic stripe cards, so I went hunting to find out the latest info.

More than three-quarters of a billion credit and debit cards are in use in the US. By the end of 2016, over 90 percent will be converted to EMV (which stands for Europay, Mastercard, Visa) cards with a chip. The US is one of the last markets to go to EMV, on a short list with Papua New Guinea and Mongolia.

About half of all credit card fraud happens in the United States even though the country only makes up about 25% of all credit card transactions, according to a Barclays report. Financial institutions had been required to pay for credit and debit card fraud until Oct. 1, 2015. Now whoever has the oldest technology when the fraud occurs, the bank or the merchant, determines who covers the cost for the crime.

Current US chip cards are vulnerable because they still employ the old magnetic stripes so that businesses that have not yet made the transition to EMV technology can still access users’ credit data.

The new cards do not work quite the same way they do in Europe, but they are a step closer. The type of card being rolled out in the US still requires a signature when you pay. Eventually, what will be used in the US is what is used in the rest of the world, known as "chip and PIN." It would work similar to an ATM card now. You insert your card and enter a four-digit password to approve the transaction. Security experts believe this is much safer than card and signature to pay for things.

The biggest difference between the old card and new one is the metal 'smart' chip embedded on the front, making personal data much safer (once they eliminate the stripe on the back). The chip assigns a unique code for every transaction made on the card. Even if a thief acquired that code, it could not be used to make another purchase. Chip cards are also harder to duplicate although it is not unheard of.

These new EMV cards do not contain the older radio frequency (RFID) technology from a few years ago as some older ones did. No need to worry about covering with foil, etc., as they cannot be scanned within your wallet.

The new EMV chip cards were designed to help curtail credit card fraud; however, there are still vulnerabilities with these cards. Nothing is perfect, so caveat emptor.

Apr 8, 2011

Plastic Computer Chips

A plastic processor and printed memory show that computing doesn't have to rely on inflexible silicon.

Silicon may run the computers that surround us, but the rigid inflexibility of the semiconductor means it cannot reach everywhere. The first computer processor and memory chips made out of plastic semiconductors suggest that, someday, nothing will be out of bounds for computer power and we are getting closer every day.

Researchers in Europe used 4,000 plastic, or organic, transistors to create the plastic microprocessor, which measures roughly two centimeters square and is built on top of flexible plastic foil. "Compared to using silicon, this has the advantage of lower price and that it can be flexible," says Jan Genoe at the IMEC nanotechnology center in Leuven, Belgium.

The processor can so far run only one simple program of 16 instructions and run at a speed of six hertz, on the order of a million times slower than a modern desktop machine. Organic transistors have already been used in certain LED displays and RFID tags, but have not been combined in such numbers, or used to make a processor of any kind until now.

Making the processor begins with a 25-micrometer thick sheet of flexible plastic, like what you might wrap your lunch. A layer of gold electrodes are deposited on top, followed by an insulating layer of plastic, and the plastic semiconductors that make up the processor's 4,000 transistors. In the future, such processors could be made more cheaply by printing them. This may prove to be the future of chip technology, but personally, I still like my chips made from potatoes.