RFID Security

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a wireless identification technique that uses the radio frequency waves for identity transmission of any object or a person. Therefore it finds diverse usage in Security systems, asset tracking, codes identification and other very important applications. RFID is being used increasing in diversely important fields. Therefore there is a rising concern over the security of RFID.

The RFID identifies the person carrying the right authentication, i.e., the right codes. It then allows only that particular person or asset into the secured area. RFID also has the databases related to the person carrying the codes. Thereby there can be thorough identification of any person in particular. This makes RFID security a major concern . If unsecure it can lead to leaking of vital information. Applications that are surrounded by the security and ethics related issues would be affected by the issue of RFID security.

Reasons for Concern of RFID Security

RFID is a fast developing technology which is widely used for critical operations like money transaction, Passports and so on. Thereby any concern related to its security is a major concern for all the users . Some of the security concerns related to RFID are-

  • Tags’ Indifference to RFID Readers : a RFID Tag is indifferent to all the Readers. The Reader is a portable device. Thus there is a security concern.
  • Jamming of RFID networks : RFID networks can be jammed rather easily. The Jamming is done using Energy at the right frequency. This can be disastrous in various important places like Hospitals, Military areas and stores where RFID securityRFID is increasingly used.
  • Ease in Readability of Tags : RFID Tags can be read without the user knowing about it.
  • RFID Reader Collision : RFID reader’s collision takes place when two or more reader reads the same data. This makes the tag unable to respond to simultaneous queries. The setup of the system has to be such that the collision is avoided.
  • RFID Tag Collision : RFID Tag collision occurs when more than one Tag is simultaneously read by a reader. This makes the reader unable to respond to either of them. Therefore Tag of small ranges are preferably used.
  • Persistence of Tags : It is hard to dispose off the RFID tags due to small size. Thus tags on some materials can remain active well after their use. This can lead to a tracking of the movement of the individual.
  • Reading of tags at a distance : Since RFID tags are readable by any reader at some particular distance, there is a possibility of a thief using a scanner outside a house. The thief may be successful in pulling off data.
  • Lack of Encryption in data streaming : While data is streamed between tags and reader, it can lead to breaches. The Data within RFID can be further Corrupted by the breach.

How to ensure RFID security

It is evident that RFID technology should be handled after taking csecurity concerns into consideration. Radio Signals can be impeded through two mediums- water and metals.  Some ways to protect RFID devices are:

  • Using Shield for Products : A shielding cover can be used as a protection to avoid the device from contact. For Example, Passports can be shielded using a designed shield case or a RFID blocking wallet or blocking sleeve. These cases are designed for the purpose of keeping the device safe and inactive.
  • Using Faraday’s cage : A faraday’s cage is a conducting metallic enclosure which shields the electro-magnetic waves from entering or leaving the cage. Radio Waves, which are a form of EM waves, are in turn heavily attenuated and almost blocked.
  • Using Aluminum Foil : Aluminum Foil proves a perfect insulator for the Radio frequency waves creating a blockage. 
  • Limiting the Use of RFID Devices : Those devices which are not of much use can be avoided as they would be unnecessary. This would increase the security of information.
  • Locking RFID tags :  RFID tags can be locked so that the information is secure. RFID tags can also be disabled if not of any use.
  • Checking the account statements :  For security from credit card theft, the owner of the card can regularly verify from account statements if any theft has occurred. Reporting Theft right away can be an important damage control measure.  

As technology advances there will always be new ways to steal people’s personal information. But there have been no serious incidents related to security of RFID products yet. There have been little or no security issues in RFID credit cards and Passports, but any believe it is because of its low penetration as compared to say other payment options such as credit cards, etc. Some analysts believe that RFID is more secure than orthodox technology used today. Therefore concerns over RFID security may prove to be just misplaced. But it is still advisable that proper precaution and security measures be taken especially if the information is sensitive or related to money matters.