Identity Stronghold was founded in 2005 with two thoughts in mind: Inform consumers about RFID embedded chips, and then protect those consumers. In the process, we started the whole industry for RFID protection. Founder Walt Augustinowicz has a technology background, and when discussions started to surface about having a national ID card for all residents with an embedded RFID chip, he started to study.
RFID Chip Vulnerabilities
To Walt’s dismay, he found that the interaction with an RFID chip embedded in a card was ‘wireless,’ meaning no contact with the card was necessary to obtain its information. For an RFID chip to transmit data to a reader, close proximity is all that was needed.
Without contact or line of sight required, he then knew that anyone armed with one of those readers could mimic the transaction and take the data on the card without the card owner knowing. We have named this unlawful transaction ‘electronic pickpocketing’.
The Federal Government initiated the first widespread use of chipped cards, but even then recognizing the vulnerabilities and threat risk, the government mandated protection of ALL employee RFID cards with either protective sleeves or protective badge holders.
Walt’s effort to protect himself led to the development of the protective Secure Sleeve®, which became Identity Stronghold’s as well as the world's first rfid blocking product. Sold to consumers and the government, the Secure Sleeve protected the US Government Employee ID Card and the US Passport Card and that is how Identity Stronghold started.
Since then, RFID chips have expanded into numerous industries:
- Credit & Debit Cards
- Passport Booklets
- Employee Identification Cards
- Student Identification Cards
- Transportation Payments
- And More
To reassure customers, a lot of false information has been promised by companies that use RFID technology. Credit card companies, wanting the speed of a wireless transaction, claim it is so safe that a pin code is not needed. They have expanded RFID use into hundreds of millions of credit cards and debit cards worldwide. Not having to input a pin code has increased transaction speed and reduced transaction time, but has left cards vulnerable to electronic pickpocketing.
RFID Security in the News
Walt has since spent countless hundreds of hours on planes and in airports for meetings with news reporters in an attempt to inform the public about electronic pickpocketing and the risk of theft from unprotected cards. (See those videos from Fox News, Anderson Cooper, NBC, CBS, ABC, Inside Edition, Discovery Channel, and countless local news stations.)
Their stories have collectively garnered more than 30 million views online alone. He recently presented to state and federal law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Marshals Service, Financial Surveillance Unit, and anti-fraud task forces via a mixture of private briefings and public trade shows.
He has reached out to most of the major credit card companies about protecting their cards with our sleeves, but they resist telling consumers (actually their customers) that there is a weakness with RFID cards.
Protect Your InformationIn an effort to continue the protection side of the ‘inform and protect’ directive, Walt has added Secure Badgeholder® and Secure Wallet™, and continues to develop RFID protection products so that consumers can protect credit cards, passports, ID cards and more. As you search our RFID blocking products, know that Identity Stronghold started this protective industry with a simple goal to educate and protect you.
Please enjoy our videos and review our protective products. Our intent is that you become more aware of this issue, and when the time is right for you, seek the protection and safety of our products for your valuable cards.