Olympic Athletes May Be A Testbed For Hackers

Back in May Samsung Electronics and Visa announced that a Samsung Galaxy S III, enabled with Visa’s mobile payment application, will be given to athletes and trialists during the London 2012 Olympic Games. The use of the smartphone’s Near Field Communication (NFC) capability together with Visa payWave enables the athletes to simply hold the phone to one of the UK’s 140,000 contactless payment terminals, many of which are in London and the Olympic Park (image below), to automatically pay amounts under £20.

Now computer security company McAfee has pointed out in a blog post that this promotion also presents a good opportunity for tech savvy criminals. McAfee believes the large number of contactless payment terminals at the Olympics together with a concentrated pool of targets (people and phones) will be an ideal environment to find vulnerabilities. The blog post mentions an interesting technique called ‘fuzzing the hardware’, which involves feeding corrupt or damaged data to an app to discover vulnerabilities.

London NFC payment locations

The NFC Revolution Begins

Samsung now has an answer for owners of the new Galaxy SIII when they ask “What can I do with the NFC tag reader”. The answer is buy five TecTile™ programmable NFC sticker tags for $14.99, download and launch the TecTile app, choose the action you require and hold the phone over a TecTile™ to program it, and then simply put the programmed TecTile™ in a convenient location for use by yourself or others (video below). In my opinion this initiative by Samsung is the beginning of the mass adoption of NFC as early adopters find ingenious and useful ways to use the tags, more details on Samsung’s microsite.

First Ever NFC Enabled Magazine Advertisement

The first ever NFC enabled magazine advertisement appears in the April issue of Wired in the form of a custom insert. Users with NFC enabled phones can place their device on the ad which will launch a mobile website where they can test drive the “Enform with Safety Connect” in-car navigation and information service available on the new 2013 Lexus GS.

The NFC Forum Type 2 Tag based on ISO/IEC 14443A was included as a label on the insert and bound into the magazine by printing company Quad/Graphics. The company has developed a proprietary technology to read and verify tags as they are bound into the magazine during the high speed manufacturing process.

The advertising press says the insert was in 500,000 subscriber copies of Wired, which is a lot of NFC tags. Even in volume if they cost 25 cents each that’s $125,000 dollars more than using a QR Code.

NFC enabled ad in Wired magazine

QR Code and NFC For Sale Signs

UK property agent Strutt & Parker with 49 offices and 800+ staff will be the first in the world to use both QR Codes and NFC tags on ‘For Sale’ signs. They will be using Kremer Signs ‘Smartboard’ product (video below) to direct users to the appropriate listing on the agents new mobile website. The QR Code and NFC tag are fixed to the post beneath the standard sale board giving the user the choice of scanning or tapping for more detailed information.

Estate agent for sale sign with both QR Code and NFC tagsHow the Kremer Smartboard is structured