How to Turn NFC Off on Androids

Man using android phone
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Near field communication (NFC) allows devices like smartphones to transfer data with other NFC-enabled technologies simply by bringing the two things close together, making information sharing much easier but also opening up the risk for new security vulnerabilities. For this reason, you may want to turn off NFC on your Android device when in highly public places where hackers could prey on the vulnerabilities of your phone.

When used for non-malicious purposes, NFC brings additional functionality to your phone, however, researchers at a Pwn2Own contest in Amsterdam showed how NFC can be exploited to gain control over an Android-based smartphone, and researchers at a Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas demonstrated similar vulnerabilities using different techniques.

If you're not actually using your phone's NFC capabilities, the solution is simple—turn them off. In this tutorial, we'll show you five easy steps to secure your Android-based phone by simply turning off NFC until you actually need it.

NFC uses are probably more common than you'd think. If you've been to Whole Foods, McDonald's, or Walgreens, you may have seen signs at the checkout about paying with your phone through Google Wallet, and if you did, then you've seen NFC in use. In fact, if your smartphone is running on Android 2.3.3 or newer, it may already be configured to send or receive data through this communications standard.

If you're not sure whether your phone supports NFC transmissions, you can search a definitive list of NFC phones for your device's model.

Disabling NFC on Android

The process to disable NFC on most newer phones is very simple. Like Bluetooth, WiFi, or any other connective tech on your phone, it's as easy as toggling NFC support off.

  1. Some Android phones have an NFC option readily available in the system tray menu at the top of the screen. Not all do, though, so the most universal way to access your NFC controls is through the Settings app. Open it on your device.

    Disable NFC on Android
  2. Scroll through your Settings and locate Connected devices. Tap to open it.

  3. Here, you'll see settings for all sorts of technologies that allow Android to communicate with other devices, including Bluetooth, Chromecast, and NFC.

    Find the NFC switch, and toggle it off.

  4. That's all there is to it. Your device is no longer able to communicate with other NFC devices and won't be vulnerable to attacks over NFC. While NFC does have its uses, it's also a risk. Since the process to enable and disable it is so simple, it's recommended that you only switch NFC on in specific situations where you need it by following essentially the same steps outlined here.