Jeans To Block Wireless Signals To Prevent ID Theft

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Clothing prevents hackers from pickpocketing important information from you

New clothing will go on sale that will block wireless signals in order to prevent hackers from lifting a person’s personal details.

The thinking is that the new clothing will prevent from any hacking attempts into radio frequency identification (RFID) tagged passports or contactless payment systems for example, when they are stored in someone’s pocket.

Pick A Pocket Or Two

There are currently two pieces of clothing from online clothing company Betabrand, based in San Francisco. A pair of jeans ($151 or £97) and a blazer ($148 or £95) are set to go on sale in February, and were developed in conjunction with security specialist Norton to combat a growing problem.

NFC logoEssentially, the clothing incorporates a silver-based material to block signals. For example, the jeans are made of conventional denim material (88 percent cotton, 10 percent poly, 2 percent spandex). But the trousers also contain two RFID-blocking pockets to defeat scanning devices, which in effect acts as a faraday cage to prevent any wireless snooping.

The new clothing is designed to combat a growing problem, as the vast majority of credit and debit cards nowadays tend to incorporate a Near Field Communication chip, which could be potentially hacked. In 2011, research found that most British consumers were concerned about the security implications of using mobile wallets, with phone hacking fears a major concern.

Indeed, the ability to commit a crime wirelessly is a growing trend.

In October it was reported that some smartphones and tablets seized as evidence by police were being remotely wiped. Police in Cambridgeshire, Cleveland, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Durham all said that such incidents had happened in their jurisdiction, while police in Dorset said it had happened six times during one year.

Smart Clothing

Incorporating technology into clothing is not a new idea. Most previous examples include clothing that can power electronic devices. In June for example Microsoft helped create a pair of smart trousers that can wirelessly charge a mobile device.

And in June 2011, mobile operator Orange said it was testing a T-shirt that charges mobile handsets by converting sound waves into power.

That was not the first time Orange had produced an ingenious power-charging solution. In June, 2010, it unveiled the so-called “Orange Power Wellies” that used a “power-generating sole” to convert heat from the wearers feet into an electrical current.

Meanwhile, there are also the “eco-charging” options for clothing and accessories that makes use of solar panels, or relies on the movement of the user. TechWeekEurope for example has previously reviewed the Infinit backpack, which featured a solar panel on a rucksack.

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