Jeans that prevents wireless hacking due to go on sale in February

Jeans by Betabrand that will be able to block RFID signals. -- PHOTO: BETABRAND
Jeans by Betabrand that will be able to block RFID signals. -- PHOTO: BETABRAND

LONDON - A pair of jeans containing material that blocks wireless signals is being developed with the aim of stopping thieves from hacking into passports tagged with radio frequency identification (RFID) or contactless payment cards.

Online clothier Betabrand and anti-virus firm Norton are developing the jeans, which are due to go on sale in February, the BBC reported.

To be priced at an estimated US$151 (S$196), they will use silver-based material to block signals. The idea is to prevent hackers from accessing contactless credit, debit and cash cards, or RFID-tagged passports.

A similarly fitted blazer will be sold at US$198.

Digital forensic firm Disklabs has made a wallet that blocks RFID signals from hackers, the BBC reported. It also makes bags that can block signals from cellphones and are now used by the police to store phones confiscated from criminals.

"There is technology readily available for anyone to snatch other people's credit and debit card data within seconds," the BBC quoted Disklabs director Simon Steggles as saying. "These apps simply copy the card with all the information on it."

Not to be left behind, security penetration firm Pen Test Partners has developed a suit that blocks RFID signals. Senior partner Ken Munro told the BBC that jeans might not be enough to protect against wireless hacking as just the pockets are covered. In contrast, his company's suit provides neck-to-toe shielding.

Mr Munro noted that as more people use technology such as wearable insulin pumps or in-chest monitoring devices, RFID hacking could become a matter of life and death.

"If we are not explicitly blocking these signals, there are a lot of things that could go wrong, from the theft of contactless payment card details to more life-threatening issues," he said.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.