Posts Tagged ‘RFID

Nano strengthens barriers to counterfeiting

By providing non‐reproducible technological features, nanotechnology based developments are expected to offer a significant move forward in preventing illicit copying intellectual properties and products. Ultimately, the implementation of the novel techniques will considerably reduce tax revenue losses through counterfeiting and improve citizens’ safety and quality of life.

Holograms, tamper‐evident closures, tags and markings and RFID labels are the most widely known anti‐counterfeiting technologies. The key limitation of these methods is that they can be copied. Innovations exploiting the intrinsic nature of nano materials to give items complex and unique ‘fingerprints’ results both in the development of new approaches and improvement of existing techniques.

Holography ‐ easily identifiable holograms, for example, showing the manufacturer’s logo are primarily used as first level identification devices. Two dimensional nano scale gratings, photopolymers and luminescent nano particles can be utilized to provide an additional level of security for the holograms.

Laser surface authentication ‐ a laser is used to examine the surface roughness of an object. Complexity and uniqueness of the surface roughness code is similar to iris scans and fingerprints. The advantages of the technique is that surface roughness at nanoscale cannot be replicated. Therefore,a much higher level of security is offered to products as compared to holograms and watermarks.

Radio frequency identification (RFID) ‐ is a form of automatic identification and data capture technology where data stored on a tag is transferred via a radio frequency link. An RFID reader is used to extract this data from tags. New developments exploit nanoscale variations, naturally produced during the manufacturing process of RFIDs that are unique to individual integrated circuits , which can be verified during data transfer. This is known as the Physically Uncloneable Function (PUF).

Nano barcodes ‐ three dimensional polymer patterns on the order of tens of nanometres can be made on silicon substrates to provide 3D nanoscale data encryption key, similar to barcodes. The advantages over conventional barcode/marking are difficulty of detecting presence (covert marking)and duplication. These can be applied to banknotes,security papers, art, jewellery and gemstones.

SERS and quantum dots tags – metal nano particles produce unique electromagnetic spectra (known as surface enhanced raman scattering) while certain semiconductor nano particles (known as quantum dots) have different fluorescence based on size and chemical composition. Both can be exploited as identification tools. They offer difficulty in reproducing due to infinite combinations, covert security feature, non‐toxicity and multi functionality. These nano scaled tags can be applied in inks, adhesives, laminates, paper, packaging, textiles, glass, and others.

Nano composite tags – consist of a materials‐based pattern (with magnetic and/or optical features) that forms part of a label, tag or embedded portion of an item. The nanometre sized magnetic and optical features are generated randomly during manufacturing, constituting a unique ‘fingerprint’ that is read and stored in a central database . The result is a secure identity for an individual item that is prohibitively expensive and difficult to copy. This technology can be applied in the pharmaceutical, spare parts, fashion and food and beverage industries. Incorporating encapsulated and functionalized (e.g. thermochromic) nano particles in labels is another promising solution based on the use of nano composites.

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RFID today and tomorrow

Many of us already use RFID tags routinely. Examples include:

Some fifty million house pets around the world have RFID tags implanted in their bodies, to facilitate return to their owners should they become lost. In a world where everyday objects carried RFID tags –perhaps the world of the future – remarkable things wouldbe possible. Here are a few possibilities (among the myriad that the reader might dream up):

  1. Smart appliances: By exploiting RFID tags in garments and packages of food, home appliances could operate more cleverly. Washing machines might select wash cycles automatically, for instance, to avoid damage to delicate fabrics. Your refrigerator might warn you when the milk has expired or you have only one remaining carton of yogurt – and could even transmit a shopping list automatically to a home delivery service.
  2. Shopping: In retail shops, consumers could check outby rolling shopping carts past point-of-sale terminals. These terminals would automatically tally the items, compute the total cost, and perhaps even charge the consumers’ RFID-enabled payment devices and transmit receipts to their mobile phones. Consumers could return items without receipts. RFID tags would act as indices into database payment records, and help retailers track the pedigrees of defective or contaminated items.
  3. Interactive objects: Consumers could interact with RFID-tagged objects through their mobile phones. (Some mobile phones already have RFID readers.) A consumer could scan a movie poster to display show times on herphone. She could obtain manufacturer information on a piece of furniture she likes by waving her phone over it.
  4. Medication compliance: Research at Intel and the University of Washington exploits RFID to facilitate medication compliance and home navigation for the elderly and cognitively impaired. As researchers have demonstrated, for example, an RFID-enabled medicine cabinet could help verify that medications are taken in a timely fashion. More generally, RFID promises to bring tremendous benefits to hospitals

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RFID Security and Privacy Risks

RFID tags may pose security and privacy risks to both organizations and individuals. Unprotected tags may have vulnerabilities to eavesdropping, traffic analysis, spoofing or denial of service. Unauthorized readers may compromise privacy by accessing tags without adequate access control. Even if tag contents are protected, individuals may be tracked through predictable tag responses; essentially a traffic analysis attack violating “location privacy”. Spoofing of tags may aid thieves or spies. Saboteurs could threaten the security of systems dependent on RFID technology through denial of service.

Any parties with their own readers may interrogate tags lacking read access control, although only within a relatively short tag read range of a few meters. While anyone could also scan nearby optical barcodes, they cannot do so wirelessly at a rate of hundreds of reads per second. The very properties making RFID technology attractive interms of efficiency make it vulnerable to eavesdropping. Aggregate logistics and inventory data hold significant financial value for commercial organizations and their competitors. A store’s inventory labeled with unprotected tags may be monitored by competitors conducting surreptitious scans. Sales data maybe gleaned by correlating changes over time. Individuals carrying items with unsecured tags are vulnerable to privacy violations. A nearby eavesdropper could scan the contents of your pockets or bag; valuable data to nosy neighbors, market researchers or thieves in search of ripe victims.

Another important privacy concern is the tracking of individuals by RFID tags. A tag reader at a fixed location could track RFID-labeled clothes or bank notes carriedby people passing by. Correlating data from multiple tag reader locations could track movement, social interactions, and financial transactions. Concerns over location privacy were recently raised when a major tire manufacturer began embedding RFID tagsinto all their products . Even if the tags only contain product codes rather than unique serial numbers, individuals could still be tracked by the “constellation” of  products they carry. Someone’s unique taste in brands could betray their identity.

In addition to threats of passive eavesdropping and tracking, an infrastructure dependent on RFID tags may be susceptible to denial of service attacks or tag spoofing. By spoofing valid tags, a thief could fool automated checkout or security systems into thinking a product was still on a shelf. Alternatively, a thief could rewrite or replace tags on expensive items with spoofed data from cheaper items. Saboteurs could disruptsupply chains by disabling or corrupting a large batch of tags.

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