i have envisioned the phone as a credit card for some time now. VISA (and others) have an RFID-enabled keychain fob that works as a proximity wand. putting an RFID into a phone that can be programed with your VISA info is not that hard to imagine. certainly the technology exists; it’s just a matter of someone doing it. but what are the security concerns?
you have take it out of your pocket and practically touch it to the sensor (usually found at gas station pumps and some retail checkouts), so it would be difficult for someone to steal your data simply by being near you. however software threats are present in the mobile world.
So while he says he admires the success of Google’s user-policed Android Market application store, he thinks Google might have to start taking more of a direct role in ensuring that applications on the store are safe, particularly in an era when more people will be using Android-based devices as personal credit cards.
“I think it’s a potential issue for Google going forward since anyone can publish an application on the Google market, and then only after the fact people may discover that it’s a malicious app,” he says.
there’s a lot about Google’s openness to be desired, but as mobile devices become our primary computing and data devices, as they merge with our credit cards and bank accounts, i’m thankful that i have a little less to be worried about under Apple’s “closed” system. Google will no doubt move to further tackle these problems in some way, but i imagine that, as with raising children, reigning in chaos is much harder than loosening the leash a little as things develop.
also earlier this morning, software developer Joe Hewitt tweeted:
The more I work with Android the more it reminds me of Windows.
which is not necessarily a bad thing, but certainly Android’s openness has been under attack by some. not necessarily by any kind of viruses or malware, but there’s a lot of talk about the potential for such. Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 (link requires Silverlight, not surprisingly) looks really sleek and, while it’s not my favorite UI, is still very appealing. One wonders if it, too, will be attacked with the same kinds of malware and viruses with which its desktop companion was plagued.
of course, no amount of software protection fully protects against loss and theft, though remote wipe and/or lockout functions (built-in to Apple’s MobileMe) are a good start. until this was available, i did not want to put any bank account information anywhere on my phone, even after apps from developers i trusted (1Password and iBank) became available, complete with passcode security. for me, MobileMe’s $99/year price tag is worth it just for the security (well, and the calendar syncing).
so there’s a lot of variables, and given the hardware imperative, we won’t see it happening just yet, certainly not in the iPhone. but, bottom line, i’d love to not have to carry a wallet around one day. an RFID-enabled phone that includes my driver’s license, VISA or bank info, even my car key… maybe pockets will be obsolete soon.
which is the real point of this article. because i love kilts.