Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

RFID technology is described as an automatic identification technology which is a non-contact using radio signals to detect, sort, track and identify different objects such as goods, vehicles, people as well as assets that do not need direct line of sight contacts such as bar code or those which does not need direct contact such as magnetic stripe technology (Spruit, & Wester, 2013). RFID technology is capable of tracking movements of objects and people through a network of radio-enable scanning devices over a distance of several meters.

There are three types of RFID tag technology: passive RFID tags, active RFID tags and chip-less RFID tags. The first is passive tags because it consist of only micro-circuit and an antenna. While the second is active tags because it consist of micro-circuit, battery and antenna (Soon, & Tieyan, 2008). Emerging technology has led to the production of chip-less RFID tags which does not contain any integrated circuit and it uses materials or fibers to reflect a portion of the readers’ signal beck and the unique return signal is used as an identifier. As a result, these chip-less RFID tags are also known as RF fibers.

            Currently, the application of RFID ranges from personal tags such as pet/livestock tracking devices, access badges, credit cards, passports and toll transponders to stealthy tags which is commonly used in merchandize such as periodicals, books, pharmaceuticals and clothes.

How RFID technology work

            Any security system that deploys RFID technology generally consist of three key elements: a transponder or an RFID tag which consist an object identifying data, a transceiver or an RFID tag reader which reads and writes tag data and a back-end database which store records associated with tags contents. The RFID tag must contain a unique identity code. When the tag is within the radio frequency range, the RFID reader send a low-level radio frequency magnetic field that power the tag. The tag responds by transmitting the unique identification data based on the RFID readers’ query. The reader captures the data and decodes it and transmit the information into the local application system through a middleware. Typically, middleware servers as an interface between the RFID application system and the reader. Depending with the feedback from the system after matching the decoded information with those stored in the host database, it can permit for accessibility or authorization for further processing or completely deny access.

            In my opinion, the deployment of RFID tag technology serves as a replacement of bar code. However, there are security and privacy risks that needs to be addressed in order to make tags more secure (Ohkubo, et al., 2005). For instance, RFID tags are sometimes described as ‘dumb’ devices which listen and respond to any reader that request for a signal. As a result any unprotected tags are vulnerable to denial of service attacks, spoofing, and traffic analysis and eavesdropping.

Organizations currently using RFID tag technology

Studies have shown that government and business entities in the United States and various parts of the world are currently deploying RFID tag technology. For example, the United States Department of Defense (DOD) and Wal-Mart started using RFID tag technology in July 2004. Government adopted RFID technology to restrict the movement of people through electronic passport. Biometric information such as iris scan, fingerprints and face recognition are all stored in the electronic passport.

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