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Can other people get my information by scanning my phone in a public area?

Yes, it is possible. It’s not like they portray it on TV shows though.

There’s a technology built into new phones called NFC which stands for Near Field Communication. That’s the technology used when you use Apple Pay, Google Pay or any of the services where you hold your phone up close to a payment machine to record your payment. That technology is very convenient, but they also have apps and things built into phones that you can actually tap your phone to somebody else’s phone and it will transfer information.

The reason that’s insecure is that it only takes a tap on the phone to open up its Near Field Communication. If someone bumps into you hard enough and they have their phone nearby, they could potentially pass a virus to your phone that way. Again, it’s not super common now but could become more and more common as they’re more successful. You don’t hear about it a lot, but it’s something that is possible because NFC isn’t really secure by default so it will communicate and allow information to be passed back and forth without any authentication.

In reality, I think for people that want to protect themselves, you can turn off NFC on any phone. It’s in your settings. Turning NFC off is your safest bet, but you won’t be able to use some of the features like Apple Pay or Google Pay. The other thing you can do is make sure that people don’t bump into your phone.

Again, it’s not that common and someone needs to get quite close to you like they would be pickpocketing you to really be able to do that. We actually use the Near Field Communication for our door access system to get into our building so there are other uses for it. You just have to weigh the risks.

If someone bumps into me, I’m probably going to be checking my phone right away.

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