Researchers have uncovered flaws in near-field communication (NFC) cards which could leave some bank customers vulnerable to having their account details stolen.
A report from Channel 4 and security firm ViaForensics has found that in field tests, researchers were able to compromise the contactless payment system used by Barclay's bank and retrieve user account information.
In the tests, researchers were able to use a modified smartphone with scanning software to tap a target's wallet and obtain full account numbers and expiry dates along with the accountholder's name.
Researchers noted that the test was limited to Barclay's Visa cards and that the user's PIN number was not able to be stolen.
The compromised information was, however, able to be used to set up an account and make a purchase on popular online retail sites such as Amazon.
The use of NFC-enabled handsets and contacless payment cards has long been a subject of debate in the security community.
While protections can be put in place to secure such systems, some experts believe that poor practices could leave users at risk for account theft and loss of privacy at the hands of scammers and cyber criminals.
Mark Bower, vice president at Voltage Security, suggested that in the case of the Barclay's test stronger encryption at the card level would have helped to prevent an attacker from lifting basic account information
"The fact is that in most cases the data originating from contactless payments and even NFC chips is in the clear at the point of sale. It needs to come off these devices in encrypted form," Bower told V3.
"This case illustrates where the industry has got things wrong, thinking that just keeping the data at rest encrypted on the chip, card or phone is good enough."
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