Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

RFID off-limits to Mythbusters

with 3 comments

Via Boing Boing:

Written by LeisureGuy

30 August 2008 at 1:42 pm

Posted in Business

3 Responses

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  1. Thats very interesting, thanks for sharing it. It doesn’t make one feel very secure using RFID products, knowing that they are so insecure that they won’t allow a tv show about cracking them to air.

    Connell Tech

    31 August 2008 at 1:42 pm

  2. I would imagine that TI not allowing Discovery Channel to air a show about RFID to be more about protecting intellectual property than it would be about hiding some shortcoming in the security of the technology.

    I worked for several years for a company that worked with RFID manufacturers (including Texas Instruments) and sold RFID products, and I know that it is a very precise technology. There are several different types of RFID technologies, and been mastered to varying degrees. The HF and UHF passive technologies that are now most commonly being used are quite secure- more secure than the barcodes and the mag-stripe technology that we now use.

    Actual RFID readers are very expensive to purchase, and must be tuned very precisely to read the tags that they are meant to read. Most tags that are being used are “passive” which means that they do not have their own on-board power supply… meaning they aren’t able to randomly emit a signal- only a reader that is tuned to the specifications of that tag will be able to excite it so that it can send back its signal. And even when the signal is emitted, it does not typically have a very long range- 10 feet would be about the maximum, in perfect conditions.

    Sure, there are other types of RFID technology being used out there- some even with on-board power supplies and greater ranges for transmitting signals. But these types of tags are generally quite bulky and expensive ($10-$15 each), and are not generally preferred for consumer-level use.

    I think in most cases, in those instances where consumers choose to use RFID products, ie: your toll-road EZ-pass, the paypass in your credit card, or the secuity chip in your car ignition key; I think that most consumers will find the convenience and benefits of using RFID outweigh any perceived risks.

    I don’t really consider myself an advocate of RFID… I think that current uses and the possibilities that the technology presents are interesting- if it can be perfected… but really, I am ambivalent about whether or not it ever catches on to mainstream, widespread use. I just think that there is a lot of mis-information that is being spread about it and causing a lot of people to be overly suspicious and concerned about its use for little reason.

    I’d be more worried about someone being able to swipe your credit card’s magstripe with any old $20 magstripe reader, or scanning the back of your driver’s license with a simple barcode reader. I suppose if people are really that paranoid about RFID they could cover their wallets with aluminum foil… The signal won’t travel through metals. (I’ve actually heard someone say they are going to do this…)

    airika

    31 August 2008 at 8:28 pm

  3. Very informative and helpful comment. Many thanks.

    LeisureGuy

    1 September 2008 at 7:01 am


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