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Personal digital privacy and security get more complex all the time—it used to be that you had to choose a strong password How To Create A Good Password That You Will Not Forget How To Create A Good Password That You Will Not Forget Read More for your email account. Now you need a wide variety of strong passwords, a way to manage them 5 Password Management Tools Compared: Find the One That's Perfect for You 5 Password Management Tools Compared: Find the One That's Perfect for You Choosing some sort of password management strategy to deal with the huge amount of passwords we need is crucial. If you're like most people, you probably store your passwords in your brain. To remember them... Read More , a passcode for your phone and your tablet, virus protection, and a range of other things. But now there’s a new way to protect yourself: with your clothes.

Most of these clothes protect you from having the radio frequency identification How Does RFID Technology Work? [Technology Explained] How Does RFID Technology Work? [Technology Explained] Read More  (RFID) information from your bank cards and passwords stolen. This is becoming a more popular way of attacking unsuspecting people, so it’s something worth thinking about. Fortunately, if the protection is built into your clothes, you won’t have to give it much thought at all!

RFID-Blocking Jeans and Blazer

Betabrand, a clothing company that makes things like dress-pant sweatpants, Cordarounds (horizontal corduroy pants), reversible smoking jackets, and insured socks, is crowd-funding RFID-blocking jeans ($150) and a women’s blazer ($150). Betabrand has worked with Norton to ensure that two pockets in the jeans and one in the blazer are immune to RFID hacking Don't Let Them Scan You: Blocking RFID Chips Don't Let Them Scan You: Blocking RFID Chips Every convenience in life comes at a cost. That's why things are so expensive at the corner store compared to the grocery store. They aren't selling you a carton of milk, they're selling you a... Read More . Keep your credit cards in those pockets, and they’ll be safe.

The garments are still in the crowd-funding phase, but the jeans are well past their goal, so you can expect to see a wider release soon (unfortunately, the blazer isn’t faring quite so well).

Signal-Blocking Suit

While having jeans or a blazer that blocks RFID signals in a pocket or two would be pretty cool, Ken Munro of Pen Test Partners doesn’t think it’s enough. That’s why his company has created a proof-of-concept for a suit that’s made completely of RFID-blocking materials, he recently told BBC.

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man-in-suit

Munro brings up the interesting point that it’s not just our credit cards and passports that need protecting anymore—even implanted electronics like pacemakers could be hacked with proximity-based methods. The suit, which is quite expensive, would prevent attacks like these. Although it’s still in concept phase, this is something to keep an eye out for in the future.

Hack-Proof Wallets

These wallets serve the same purpose as Betabrand’s jeans and blazer, but are much more easily moved between different garments and various situations. There are a number of different options, from very utilitarian to very sleek to homemade. To see a selection of them, check out our article on RFID-blocking wallets What Are RFID-Blocking Wallets & Which Should You Buy? What Are RFID-Blocking Wallets & Which Should You Buy? If you knew that someone could read your credit cards, passport, and even driver's license without actually having to swipe them, would you take steps to guard against it? Read More .

rfid-wallet-flipside-strata

And if you’re not sold on the idea of spending money on a wallet like the ones in the article above, don’t forget that using an Altoids can can also be pretty effective in blocking the signals used by thieves to capture your RFID information!

Travel-Safe Backpacks

Travelsmith’s Pacsafe Slingsafe 300 ($75) and Pacsafe Citysafe 350 ($57–69)—as well as a number of their other bags and gear—will protect your things from RFID skimming and other dangers that you might face while traveling. The bags are slashproof, snatch-resistant, and come with tamperproof zippers.

pacsafe-bags

Using a bag like this one is a good idea if you’re traveling with a number of RFID-enabled items, like credit and debit cards or your passport, many of which are now coming with RFID chips. And because it’s reinforced against attacks and theft attempts, it’ll keep the rest of your electronics safe as well.

Anti-Facial Recognition Makeup and Hair

You’ve probably seen CV Dazzle before—it’s the project created by artist Adam Harvey that uses makeup and hair styling to disrupt common facial recognition technologies, much like the old dazzle camouflage from World War I disrupted the outlines of ships. By using specific strategies, these looks prevent facial recognition software Top 5 Ways You Are Spied On Every Day And Don't Know It Top 5 Ways You Are Spied On Every Day And Don't Know It The chances are you're oblivious to the ways in which you're being monitored almost daily as you go about your business. Learn how to take precautions to protect yourself against these surveillance threats. Read More from determining that you’re in a specific frame.

cv-dazzle

While most people probably aren’t highly concerned about whether or not an algorithm can figure out whether or not that a person is in the frame, this sort of technology could be used for other sorts of purposes in the future, such as tracking you through CCTV. It’s easy to see why people might be more inclined to try to disrupt it then.

Drone-Disrupting Tops

Adam Harvey continues to impress with more anti-surveillance art, this time in the form of tops that disrupt the thermal imaging used by many surveillance drones Drone Wars: How UAV Tech Is Transforming the Future of War Drone Wars: How UAV Tech Is Transforming the Future of War A revolution is taking place right now on the battlefields of the world: wars are fought increasingly by drones. Read More in his Stealth Wear collection. As with the makeup and hair styling above, this is a fashion exhibition that has some real-world applicability—it’s the ideas behind these designs that make them appealing.

stealth-wear-burqa

The burqa ($2,500), hijab ($550), and (half-) hoodie ($475) all pack a lot of thermally reflective material, and the t-shirt ($40) has a thermally reflective drone appliqué. While these items are for sale at the Privacy Gift Shop, the first three are prohibitively expensive. If you’re looking to buy one of these, though, you should get on it fast—there aren’t many left.

How Safe Are You?

While surveillance gets more and more pervasive, people are coming up with some really great ideas on how to help people stay in control of their privacy and security, from preventing drive-by RFID hacks to disrupting drone surveillance. These technologies aren’t very common yet, and they’re still quite expensive, but you can expect them to grow in popularity in the coming years.

Would you wear the items above? Do you feel that your privacy and security are at risk when you’re out and about? Share your thoughts below!

Image credits: Man in suit gray background via Shutterstock.

  1. Alan
    January 8, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    Or... the simple solution is to buy very inexpensive RFID blocking credit card sleeves. They can be found on Amazon or ebay in multi-packs anywhere from $7-15 USD. Then you can put them in any wallet, purse, blazer, jeans, etc. that you want.

    RFID hackers are out there and with the right piece of equipment, it is very easy for them to get your information. I am not being alarmist, but RFID skimming does happen. Not all cards have RFID chips in them, but for those that do, RFID blocking sleeves are a very inexpensive way to protect yourself.

    • Dann Albright
      January 11, 2015 at 9:30 am

      That's a good point—there are definitely more efficient ways of blocking RFID signals than wearing special jeans or a blazer. It's a cool technology, but not nearly as versatile as the sleeves you mention. Those sound like a great deal!

      Thanks for reading!

  2. dragonmouth
    January 7, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    Instead of using an Altoids can, I use an Aluma-Wallet. You might have seen it advertised in middle of the night infomercials. It is a bit more stylish than an Altoids can. It comes in 4 or 5 colors and fits very well into a pants back pocket. However, it can only be used in addition to a wallet rather than as a replacement. The one shortcoming of the Aluma-Wallet is that, inspite of what the ads claim, it is rather short on space. It will hold no more than 10 plastic cards.

    My wife, who carries the usual female-type wallet, lined couple of the pockets with aluminum foil and puts her cards in them. I wonder if a piece of foil between the bills and the outside surface of a man's wallet would protect credit cards from scans?

    • Dann Albright
      January 7, 2015 at 2:19 pm

      I've never heard of an Aluma-Wallet, but I can believe that it's more stylish than an Altoids can. Unless you're going for a hipster/DIY sort of aesthetic, in which case it's much LESS stylish. I'd say 10 plastic cards is pretty good for an RFID-blocking wallet; a lot of them seem pretty small.

      I'm not sure if lining the sides of a men's wallet would protect cards or not; my guess is that they would, unless it's possible for the signal to enter the wallet from the edge. You'd have to ask someone who has a better understanding of physics than I do. Interesting idea, though.

      Thanks for commenting!

    • dragonmouth
      January 8, 2015 at 2:42 pm

      If you watch commercial TV with any regularity, you should have seen ads for Aluma-Wallet. It may have been called something else. It is sleek. It is stylish. It can survive being driven over by a car. It is spill-proof, water-proff and many other kinds of "-proof." In fact, it is the greatest thing since sliced bread (at least according to the ads).

      "I’d say 10 plastic cards is pretty good for an RFID-blocking wallet"
      I am using Aluma-Wallet as my wallet so in addition to credit cards, I also carry my license and various supermarket discount cards. That tends to fill it up quickly.

      "I’m not sure if lining the sides of a men’s wallet would protect cards or not"
      I think we'll have to wait for some experimenter or lab to give us the final word on that. I'd try it but it's not the kind of experiment I would want to fail. However, having a small envelope made out of heavy duty alumium foil to put credit cards in would work.

    • Dann Albright
      January 9, 2015 at 9:27 am

      I don't watch commercial TV with regularity, partly because I spend a lot of time writing, and partly because I'm a postgrad student. :-)

      And I can definitely see how you could fill up 10 slots quickly; I have at least 10 loyalty cards around my house, plus all of the cards in my wallet. I used to have a separate passport wallet that I kept loyalty cards and things in, and that worked pretty well, as I could just stash it in my bag whenever I went out. Might have to do that again.

      And yes, that's definitely an experiment that should be tried! If I had the knowledge, I'd take it on myself. Hopefully someone who knows more about these things gives it a shot soon. I'd love to know if that would work!

  3. Jessica C
    January 7, 2015 at 4:19 am

    I wonder if we can expect any of these technologies to just start to appear in ordinary shops and ordinary fashion.

    Great article, Dann.

    • Dann Albright
      January 7, 2015 at 11:39 am

      I think that'd be pretty cool if they started showing up in more ordinary clothing, but I would imagine there would have to be a pretty big demand for it for that to happen. I don't think most people have any idea that RFID hacks can happen, so they likely aren't requesting things like this. Who knows, though? Maybe it'll start happening enough that people wise up.

  4. Doc
    January 6, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    Now all we need is stylish, matching tinfoil hat that will go with a suit...

    • Dann Albright
      January 7, 2015 at 11:38 am

      Do you think this might do the job? http://www.amazon.com/Unisex-Sequins-Flashy-Fedora-Hat/dp/B0091FF78K

      On a more serious note, are you suggesting that RFID hackers aren't out there? Or that it's not a serious threat? It's something that I haven't been aware of for very long, so I'm not sure how other people are thinking about it.

    • dragonmouth
      January 7, 2015 at 12:46 pm

      You would need the hat only if you had any electronically scannable data in your head. :-)

      Although I remember seeing Discovery Channel program about researchers working on reading and interpreting human thoughts.

    • Dann Albright
      January 7, 2015 at 2:16 pm

      See, electronically scannable data in your head isn't so far fetched, is it? :-)

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