Here in the UK, the bio-metric passport project is now in its fourth year.  By all accounts the roll-out has proved successful, although there is a growing body of evidence that suggests the system is not entirely fool-proof; leaving a small window of opportunity for unscrupulous individuals to ‘skim’ the data contained therein.  It’s been argued that this can be done from distances up to a metre away, and what’s more – you wouldn’t feel a thing!

As someone who’s not keen to have their privacy compromised – even if this is just a ‘long shot’ – I’ve decided to put together a DIY guide to keeping your RFID enabled passport secure from skimmers. So, we’re going to use the ‘Faraday Cage’ approach of using aluminium foil to create a secure environment for our passport – rendering it inactive, whilst inside the foil.  Yes, I realise that this smacks of ‘tin hat paranoia’ – but there’s compelling evidence to suggest it works – as the signal from our passive RFID chip is effectively blocked from the reader; or ‘hacker’ as the case may be.

You will need:

2 x A3 paper
A4 size strips of aluminium foil
C5 sized envelope/s
3M spray mount
1 x scalpel
1 x newspaper
1 x ruler
1 x strong adhesive (PVA / wood glue)
1 x kettle (for streaming the C5 envelope open)

Instructions:

  • Take your kettle, fill it with about one cup of water, and heat until boiling
  • Taking great care with this next step – steam the folded seams of your C5 envelop, until the original glue relaxes and you can peal the flaps apart
  • Once all flaps are released – unfold your envelop and allow to dry
  • Once dry, place your unfolded envelop between two sheets of A3 paper (creating a sandwich) and iron the top sheet of A3, thus in doing so the C5 envelop will be flattened.
  • Remove the 2 sheets of A3 paper, take the (now flattened) envelop and place it over a sheet of aluminium foil and ensure that there’s sufficient foil to cover your envelop.  Cut to size – allowing for at least 1 cm overlap on all edges.
  • Place the aluminium foil onto a sheet of old newspaper – spray well with 3M spray mount
  • Place inside face of envelop onto the sticky side of the foil – you’re attempting to glue the foil to the inside of your envelop.
  • Place a sheet of A3 paper over the top, then rest a heavy book on top – allowing up to 24 hrs for the glue to adhere
  • Once fully dried – and using a ruler – trim all edges with a scalpel, to the original dimensions of your C5 envelop.  TAKE CARE OF FINGERS!!!
  • Finally, crease any folds again to original C5 envelop configurations.
  • Use the strong adhesive to join the folded seams together.

You should now have a C5 envelope with a foil lining inside. All you need do now is insert your RFID enabled passport and close the flap.  You can use a paper clip to keep the flap closed.

All done!

Although with hindsight, you could well be better off simply buying an RFID protected passport sleeve (for around £2.99) from one of the suppliers listed elsewhere on this site. (Click here to buy from UK-supplier RFID Protect.)

And unless you already have most of the items detailed above then it’s probably also a cheaper option – but of course less fun!

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Comments
  1. eBay (UK)

    Until very recently it seemed impossible to purchase cheap unbranded paper-based Tyvek RFID sleeves from a UK supplier. BUT now multi-packs have arrived on eBay! (These fit all major UK passport, credit, debit, Oyster, transport and similar sized cards.)

    This is a great development and certainly the best option for those on a really tight budget.

    http://www.ebay.co.uk (credit card sleeves)

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