Posts Tagged ‘travel’

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!

In the UK we stand at the dawn of a new era, the emergence of a new way of conducting business and our lives – welcome to the RFID enabled World! But as is the case with the roll-out of any new technology, we may not be fully aware of the associated challenges. Will our identity remain safe from the unscrupulous career criminals? How can we protect ourselves from card skimming and cloning. These are just some of the many questions that this site hopes to address into the future. We hope you’ll contribute, and that this resource will prove useful in some way.