Researchers at the University of Arkansas have developed a new way to combat passive RFID tag cloning using the physical attributes of a tag to identify it rather than just the information stored on it.
According to Professor Dale R. Thomas, passive RFID tags are easy to counterfeit because they do not include conventional encryption algorithms and security protocols. To clone a tag one must simply copy the information from one tag and load it onto another, which can then be attached to a counterfeit product such as an e-passport.
To prevent this Thomas and his team have developed an electronic fingerprinting system that distinguishes tags based on subtle differences in frequencies and manufacturing idiosyncrasies.
To determine the differences in tag frequency, the research team used an Avery Dennison M4E testcube (a device used for determining the optimal placement of RFID tags on packages) to measure a tag’s minimum power response when prompted by a reader. The team used an algorithm that repeatedly sent reader-to-tag signals starting at a low power value, increasing the power until the tag responded.
The resulting measurements showed that the minimum power response at multiple frequencies is unique for each tag, allowing the team to create an electronic fingerprint.
This method of tag identification can be used along with other security protocols for identification and authentication, according to Thomas.
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