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RFID security issues…

May 1, 2005

Went out wid Pramod to sector-18 today and we were talking abt MS Office book, Sapient’s library, IEC library, Bar-coding and finally RFID. And then I told Pramod about “SOME” security issues with RFID. But as always the information I had was half baked, so here is an excerpt from an article I found on the net elucidating the same:

RFID tags differ from conventional barcode tags in a number of ways. It is these differences that create the benefit of adopting the technology, while simultaneously creating the greatest concern over the privacy issues involved. For example, under today’s barcode technology, a pack of Wrigley’s gum sold in Houston has the same barcode as a pack sold in New York City. With RFID, however, each pack would have a unique ID code which could be tied to the purchaser of that gum when they use an “item registration system” such as a frequent shopper card or a credit card.

Continuing with the gum example, the purchaser could then be tracked if he/she ever entered that same store again, or perhaps more frightening, if they entered any other store with RFID reading capability. Because, unlike a barcode, RFID tags can be read from much greater distances and the reading of such devices is non-directional. This means that if you enter a store with a pack of gum in your pocket, the reader can identify that pack of gum, the time and date you bought it, where you bought it, and how frequently you come into the store. If you used a credit card or a frequent shopper card to purchase it, the manufacturer and store could also tie that information to your name, address, and e-mail. You could then receive targeted advertisements by gum companies as you walk down the aisle, or receive mailings through your e-mail or regular mail about other products.

As the technology behind RFID advances, the potential for privacy infringement does as well. A more recent development is a study which reveals that RFID already has the capability to determine the distance of a tag from the reader location. With such technology already available, it is not difficult to imagine a situation in which retailers could determine the location of individuals within their store, and thus target specific advertisements to that customer based upon past purchases. In effect, that store would be creating a personal log of your past purchases, your shopping patterns, and ultimately your behavioral patters. While such information gathering would be considered intrusive enough by many consumer’s standards, the danger that such information could be sold to other retailers, (similar to the way such profiles are currently sold regarding Internet commerce), could create potentially devastating information vulnerabilities. While some RFID critics have pointed out that the technology could lead to some sort of corporate “Big Brother,” there is a more widespread concern that allowing RFID to develop without legal restrictions will eliminate the possibility for consumers to refuse to give such information to retailers.

For complete article go to: rfidgazette

Hope Pramod reads it though!! 😉

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 24, 2005 9:28 am

    hi there,

    An interesting issue and as a RFID researcher i am compelled to comment: to link the ‘gum Tag’ to the data base one needs the access to the database. So the “RFID MAG” just did little research before publishing it. Moreover the tag is of very less frequency so it cant possibly be read by readers distant over than 1 cm(in the case of gum and other products.)

    Plus there are laws against it.

    One more interesting development CHASE Bank has rolled out RFID credit cards. So now u do not even need to swipe. just walk through.

    Cheers to RFID


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