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Thursday, December 30, 2021

Beware of data theft with RFID use, says expert


The works ministry says RFID will ensure a smooth travelling experience for motorists and allow them to perform touchless toll transactions which will reduce risks of Covid-19 infection.

PETALING JAYA: From Jan 15, vehicles using highways may use radio frequency identification stickers, known as RFID tags, for toll transactions – but a cybersecurity expert is questioning if the data of the road users will be secure.

SL Rajesh of the International Association for Counter-Terrorism and Security Professionals said these companies have to take data security seriously as companies are losing billions of dollars globally due to data breaches.

He told RFID companies to take extra steps to keep their customers’ data secure.

“When you buy a RFID tag, you have to register with the companies that sell these tags. These companies, who keep the personal data of the customers, need to ensure that the data are kept safe.

“They should conduct frequent cybersecurity tests on their servers to identify whether they have been hacked or exposed to malware,” he told FMT.

Rajesh said the companies need to have network security software, encryption software and data security software to encrypt the data to prevent hackers from decrypting and stealing them.

“The companies need to have backup systems as well. If one server is infected with the virus, what are they going to do?”

He also urged the companies to exercise transparency with their customers, by informing them about how their personal data have been used.

“Customers have to be aware of how their data are being collected, used and protected,” he said.

Addressing problems

Saravanan Thambirajah.

Meanwhile, Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) chief executive officer Saravanan Thambirajah said while the government’s move to expand RFID usage is good, there are some issues related to the technology that need to be addressed.

“You have RFID users stuck at toll plazas, the issue of refunds, unknown penalties issued to users and overcharges that need to be addressed,” he said.

Saravanan felt that it is a bad idea for the government to push for the full implementation of RFID on all highways.

He rubbished the government’s reasoning that the “touchless” use of RFID will minimise risks of Covid-19, calling it a “lame excuse”.

“What is the evidence that the use of Touch ‘n Go cards has led to spreading Covid-19? If there is any, let us know.

“The government should not use the pandemic to force people to use new technology. It looks bad on the authorities and the highway management,” he said

He also criticised the decision to phase out the usage of Touch ‘n Go cards and SmartTag, which he described as “stupid”.

“Not everyone can afford to keep cash in e-wallets. B40 groups do not have the extra cash flow to keep in e-wallets.

“Also, the government needs to open up more e-wallet service providers. Do not rely on only one service provider. Consumers must have options.

“Some cronies are going to benefit from RFID, not the people who have spent hundreds of ringgit on SmartTags and Touch ‘n Go cards.”

Saravanan also said RFID uses an e-wallet feature, which is not friendly for less tech-savvy customers.

“The way forward should be introducing RFID while providing an option for motorists to continue using Touch n’Go and SmartTag for as long as needed,” he said.

On Dec 16, the works ministry announced that RFID lanes will be introduced on the Juru-Skudai stretch of the North-South Expressway for light vehicles from Jan 15.

The ministry said it will be phasing out the use of Touch ‘n Go and SmartTag to make way for the opening of more RFID lanes in toll plazas along the expressway.

According to the ministry, the implementation of RFID will ensure a smooth, non-stop travelling experience for motorists and allow them to perform touchless toll transactions, which will reduce risks of Covid-19 infection. - FMT

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