Closeup of MTA MetroCard

Will the MTA’s new fare payment system be safe?

Now that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (NY) announced plans to replace the MetroCard, observers are raising questions about the security of the new contactless fare collection system.

In an era of data breaches, the New York Times asks whether commuters will have to worry about “hackers following them down into the subway.”

The MTA and its selected contractor Cubic Transportation Services offered assurances that customers would be safe.  Cubic president Matt Cole said that Transport for London’s (UK) Oyster system — which Cubic developed — “has not had any vulnerabilities.”  And the MTA’s system will build on the knowledge that Cubic gained from TfL and other systems to develop an even safer system.

Jon Weinstein, a spokesman for the MTA, said that customer safety is the agency’s “Number 1 priority,” and that applies to transporting them and safeguarding their information.

Experts say other problems are more likely with contactless systems.  Depending on the technology, these may include “card clash” or “near-field mischief.”

Card clash occurs when a customer is carrying a smart card and a debit card, both enabled with near-field communication, and the card reader may charge the wrong card (or both).

With near-field mischief, someone skims value from a NFC-enabled card. The good news, said Pam Dixon of the World Privacy Forum, is that personal information is not likely at risk. “Stealing people’s identities is not the goal,” she said. “There are easier ways of doing that.”   Link to full story in the New York Times.

Photo credit: Susan Mara Bregman

, , , , , ,

Comments are closed.

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes