I am not paranoid by nature, but I am a “better safe than sorry” type. In this Age of Information, we must do more and more to protect our information, our data, and ourselves. Most of us don’t know enough about how to protect ourselves from any eventuality, though, so when very simple and affordable solutions present themselves, I’m all ears.
Scottevest, makers of fantastic high tech clothing, now make a product called the Blackout Pocket. The Pockets protect your devices, credit cards, passports, and more from hacking or the stealing of information. There are different levels of Pocket, as well. Level I blocks RFID signals. Level II blocks RFID, cell, and GPS signals. Level III also blocks the signals blocked by Level II, but it has an extra layer to protect against stronger scans. Using these won’t make you a spy (unless you’re already one), but it might make you feel like one. And they will keep your data safe.
Do they work? Most definitely. We tested the Level I and Level II Pockets with my cell phone (since we don’t have the hardware to try to hack passports and credit cards), and sure enough, the signals were all blocked. My phone was so protected that calls didn’t go through, a timer that I set had stopped counting down (because it lost track of time when it lost signal), and my phone took almost a full minute to reconnect to the wifi or cell signal when I took it out of the Pocket. Even though the Level I pocket was only supposed to block RFID signals, it also blocked my cell signal, but YMMV.
It’s like putting your phone into a black hole. (No comments, please, about the possible lack of existence of said phenomenon.)
Should the average person use these? Yes. If you are concerned about identify theft, or want to keep your data and information safe, these are a useful, affordable, and easy-to-use product. They are fantastic for traveling, and double as protection and visual obfuscation of your valuable items. They can also be used when you don’t want your phone to make any noise at all. Just about everyone out there has been “that guy” who forgets to turn their phone to vibrate, or your phone still manages somehow to make an audible noise. This product can prevent that kind of embarrassment, too.
So, to sum up, the Scottevest Blackout Pockets are perfect for security and protection. They block out everything. I recommend them for anyone who gets out and about with their data. For a more complete explanation, please visit the Scottevest website.
The Scottevest Blackout Pockets retail for $20 for Level I, $40 for Level II, and $80 for Level III. The Level III Pockets are currently sold out, but when they become available again, they will be sold to the public, and not just governmental organizations. All of the Pockets are washable, easy to use, close simply and effectively with hook fasteners, and even have extra double-sided hook fasteners to attach to Scottevest clothing or other things. They come packaged in one quart plastic zip-top bags, perfect for use with the TSA. My only complaint is that the Blackout Pockets aren’t labeled as to their level, so a silver Sharpie will have to be put to use.
Note: RFID tags can be read from farther away than you think. There was a long talk on the subject of RFID at DEFCON 18 (thanks to my friend Alan for the heads up). Even though the talk is a few years old, it has plenty of content that many of us don’t know. If this topic interests you, I highly suggest you give it a look.
I received a Level I and Level II Pocket for review purposes.