Personal digital privacy and security get more complex all the time—it used to be that you had to choose a strong password for your email account. Now you need a wide variety of strong passwords, a way to manage them, 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 (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. 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).
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 from determining that you’re in a specific frame.
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.
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 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.
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.