Director of Product Management

Author Bio ▼

Richard Aufreiter is the Director of Product Management with HID Global's Identification Technologies group, where his focus is on innovation and optimisation of high-performance RFID tags. In addition to working on LF, HF, and UHF tags for industry, logistics, and animal ID sectors, he supports development of cards and inlays for NFC and non-NFC use. Before his dedication to RFID two years ago, he spent 16 years in the IT security industry as product and engineering manager for encryption systems, PKI, biometry, and mobile device security on a global scale.
March 5, 2013

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RFID Tags: Securing the Internet of Things

Barcodes have long been the backbone of traditional supply-chain management.

However, with tracking requirements becoming ever more rigorous in specific industries, there has been a tangible shift towards the adoption of RFID tags, as the technology of choice, for monitoring mobile assets.

Click here to view Figure 1.

Along with a growing recognition of the benefits this technology can provide in terms of increased accuracy and greater efficiency, an RFID tag provides detailed audit trails of exactly where the mobile items are and when they’re due back.

As one of its most attractive capabilities, RFID tags with “track-and-trace” competencies can not only optimise data accuracy but also streamline the management of critical transportations.

Take, for example, the ability to monitor the movement of expensive and precious items like fine art works or the transportation of animal cargo across borders.

Closer to home, traditionally important documents, such as government certificates, legal agreements, even birth certificates to deeds of trust, have usually been protected from fraud by having them physically signed or notarised by a person acting in a trusted role.

RFID tags mitigate the risks inherent to maintaining the authenticity of these documents such as falsifying original text, fraudulently editing signatures, or misattribution through old-fashioned sign-off procedures.

In addition, there has typically been no easy way to authenticate the value or ownership of physical items including luxury products, or the warranty status of purchased equipment.

Impossible to clone
Due to their design, RFID tags are impossible to clone or duplicate and can also be hidden inside a product or inserted into tamper-proof stickers that can be attached to products and equipment.

At the other end of the chain, by downloading a reader application to a regular smartphone, users can scan a product or document with complete confidence in the same way a barcode functions.

By essentially capitalising on the technology already in your pocket, the credibility of the product or document’s lifetime can be confirmed and recorded. Impossible to clone or duplicate, these tags can be cryptographically secured and hidden inside a product if necessary or inserted into tamper-proof stickers that can be attached to products and equipment.

Through their wireless identification capability, travel and interception information can be recorded, stored, and updated as necessary by a remote manager.

As tracking requirements have become ever more stringent and time-pressured, there has been a tangible shift towards RFID tags, as the technology of choice for monitoring mobile assets as they move throughout the supply chain, along with a growing recognition of the benefits of this technology.

Brewing industry

One particular application where RFID tags are making a real impact is in returnable transport items with the brewing industry, one of the earliest adopters of tracking tags.

Companies at the cutting edge of RFID technology responded to strong demand from the industry for better visibility on what happened to beer kegs throughout the supply process, by developing compact, low-frequency metal container tags to support tracking and identification.

These tags use an RFID-enabled passive contactless transponder to communicate with a reader, with an embedded read/write capability for extra flexibility to store more data as needed, in line with growth of the business. The tags further provide detailed audit trails of exactly where the kegs are and when they’re due back, lending themselves to the maintenance of compliance control through its backward traceability functionality.

As the Internet of Things becomes more of a reality, secure NFC services combined with RFID tags will become increasingly popular and be applied more often to fulfill a wide range of requirements.

In doing so, it will accelerate and blend the management of our interaction with physical objects alongside our already virtualised daily life such as email and social media.

Keep up with the wireless access control market

Download this free report to find out more about:

  • The current state of wireless access control solutions in the market
  • The developing ‘move to mobile access control’ trend
  • Views on open architecture and integration
  • The growing use of the cloud and ACaaS to manage access systems
  • How important is sustainability to the industry?

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safeNsane
safeNsane
March 5, 2013 8:51 am

We have been down the path of evaluating RFID for inventory control a few times over the past 6-07 years.  While the price of tags, their durability and the options for using them are getting better all the time we still run into a couple of issues.  Most of our issues are a result of processes already in place that are difficult to change.  I think this is pretty common since the majority of the companies I speak to have run into similar issues.  It becomes a problem not of should you implement RFID but how much disruption can you… Read more »

batye
batye
March 6, 2013 3:46 am
Reply to  safeNsane

interesting point, but with changes in technology and inventory control RFID tags offer excellent solution real time tracking inventory… and on the long run Co. could save a lot…

safeNsane
safeNsane
March 6, 2013 8:32 am
Reply to  batye

In specific aspects of our inventory control we see the benefits of RFID, the problems that still exist though are accurate scanning through cases and or spools of cable, accuracy with batch scanning and if we were to go with some active RFIDs we run into their ability to communicate through those same circumstances.

manshi
manshi
March 6, 2013 10:05 am
Reply to  safeNsane

: I think RFID has changed things a bit plus it has come a long way. With RFID , I feel there are more things which has to be done plus this can simply be a good alternative for barcodes too.
 

safeNsane
safeNsane
March 7, 2013 8:11 am
Reply to  manshi

,  I agree that RFID has come a long way and in ideal conditions RFID does have benefits over barcodes but once you get into complex situations it can be frustrating since you revert back to using them just like you would a barcode.

manshi
manshi
March 7, 2013 10:28 am
Reply to  safeNsane

“once you get into complex situations it can be frustrating since you revert back to using them just like you would a barcode.”
: Well I agree upto some extent with your comment but what alternative do we have for this right now ? Is there any other possibility which is in the testing mode right now ?  The answer would is NO. 

safeNsane
safeNsane
March 8, 2013 7:24 am
Reply to  manshi

, I agree that RIFD is coming along and that there really isn’t another option that I’ve seen.  I’m not anti-RFID, I’m just fishing for some solutions to issues we’ve come across.

manshi
manshi
March 10, 2013 8:49 am
Reply to  safeNsane

: I get your point. I too feel that we do need some sort of a new form to overcome the current RFID issues we have, but right now there is no option left for us.

safeNsane
safeNsane
March 11, 2013 5:32 am
Reply to  manshi

I agree RFID is growing and while it’s not a perfect technology it has some very strong points.  Until every issue we have can be addressed the fall back of treating an RFID tag like a barcode will work, it’s just a little frustrating as is redesigning long held processes that may or may not make the tags more effective.

manshi
manshi
March 13, 2013 11:27 am
Reply to  safeNsane

: I think only time will decide the fate of this. I hope this will not die in a way that the barcodes did. It has a lot to offer. I’m not sure the possibility on this but what if barcode methodology and the RFID methodology gets combined and make something out of the two ? 

safeNsane
safeNsane
March 15, 2013 8:53 am
Reply to  manshi

, well you can print your barcode formatted data onto an RFID tag and use it as both.  That was part of a long conversation I had this week with an RFID researcher.  I suspect that we’re going to see this method used to address issues with RFID as more people try rolling out solutions.

manshi
manshi
March 16, 2013 11:33 pm
Reply to  safeNsane

“I suspect that we’re going to see this method used to address issues with RFID as more people try rolling out solutions”
: Yes looks like it will take some time to get things going. Btw is there a specific requirement for RFID where you need to use the recommended tools used by your software principles ? 

safeNsane
safeNsane
March 18, 2013 7:43 am
Reply to  manshi

, in most cases there’s a middleware layer that needs to be in place if you’re going to an RFID solution, most of them are good about working with existing software to hand off the important bits of information.  If you’ve got something really old or incredibly proprietary I’d have a talk with them before heading down the RFID path.

manshi
manshi
March 23, 2013 12:31 pm
Reply to  safeNsane

 in most cases there’s a middleware layer that needs to be in place if you’re going to an RFID solution
:  What does the middleware layer exactly does here with relevance to RFID? Is it kind of a bridge between the 2 ?

safeNsane
safeNsane
March 25, 2013 7:39 am
Reply to  manshi

The middle ware gets between the scanning software/drivers and the application you’re trying to scan into.  If you think about it you’re shooting an area with radio waves and listening for responses from the tags.  If one tag answers back a couple dozen times you probably don’t want to count it that many times so you have middle ware that throttles the data sent to your software and strips off control bits for example.

Rob Ratcliff
Rob Ratcliff
March 22, 2013 11:56 am
Reply to  manshi

I’m sure there’ll be new solutions on the near horizon, there always is. Either that or the way we use RFID just needs to catch up to what you actually want

manshi
manshi
March 23, 2013 12:32 pm
Reply to  Rob Ratcliff

 : True you do need to catch up with RFID for sure but I really feel that if we does not find any alternative that can replace RFID, the technology will have monopoly effects which might be harmful

Rob Ratcliff
Rob Ratcliff
March 25, 2013 5:26 am
Reply to  manshi

Monopoly is a word that we should all be pretty fearful of, indeed. Not just because it’s a horrible board game! Competition is always vital in any market, you’re correct.

manshi
manshi
March 27, 2013 10:48 am
Reply to  Rob Ratcliff

: If we allow a monopoly market to be created, then it’s a disadvantage for all of us who act as buyers or customers. We need to make competition happen since it will benefit us.   

Rob Ratcliff
Rob Ratcliff
March 27, 2013 1:44 pm
Reply to  manshi

I still believe (off topic here slightly) that we’re still set for a big consolidation in the major security manufacturers some time soon, though. Less competition, but perhaps a more focused market.

manshi
manshi
March 29, 2013 11:13 am
Reply to  Rob Ratcliff

: Im not sure about happening it in reality right now since most of us want competition in the market rather than anything else.  

batye
batye
April 3, 2013 3:10 am
Reply to  manshi

if you have true/honest competition… everyone do benefit from it including consumers… 

Rob Ratcliff
Rob Ratcliff
April 4, 2013 8:00 am
Reply to  batye

I don’t know, I just see the scale of many security businesses and wonder if it’s sustainable. Obviously, I hope it is.

batye
batye
April 4, 2013 12:35 pm
Reply to  Rob Ratcliff

yes, Rob with time –  we will know and see …

manshi
manshi
April 13, 2013 11:16 pm
Reply to  batye

: Yes exactly, since competition is something which not only highlights the price wars but also benefits all factors since both parties will try to provide the best for the lowest price. 

batye
batye
April 14, 2013 4:05 am
Reply to  manshi

a lot of the times low price = low quality… as you could not build a Jag on KIA budget….

SunitaT
SunitaT
April 24, 2013 3:47 pm
Reply to  batye

a lot of the times low price = low quality
, low price doesnt necessarily mean low quality. Sometimes when the production starts in large scale then the price of the products automatically comes down.

JonathanL
JonathanL
April 25, 2013 9:16 am
Reply to  SunitaT

Agreed, low price does not necessarily mean low quality.  With the correct infrastructure in place and are refined method of production you can reach a point where your return on investment is so that you can over your customers a quality product for next to nothing with little to no defects.  Its what quality management is all about.

batye
batye
April 29, 2013 10:00 am
Reply to  SunitaT

yes, agree, but for new products just getting on the market… price could not be low…

manshi
manshi
May 5, 2013 1:26 am
Reply to  batye

: True but always it does not happen. Sometimes when you have another version coming in you tend to lower the price which is in good quality just to market the new version.  

batye
batye
May 5, 2013 1:37 am
Reply to  manshi

yes, but not always if you take a look at apple… apple hardware tend to retain it value….

manshi
manshi
May 7, 2013 12:38 pm
Reply to  batye

: Yes true on that example for sure but still if you are not being updated with the changes you cannot do justice to your requirements.    

batye
batye
May 7, 2013 2:04 pm
Reply to  manshi

also it related to the technology hype… and what consumers willing to pay…

batye
batye
April 3, 2013 3:08 am
Reply to  Rob Ratcliff

Rob you are right… in Canada we have crown/gov. corporations and they have monopoly… for example Canada Post… and now with out healthy competition Canada Post is in big trouble… as it at big loss… and gov… do not know what to do… how to bring it to the road of recovery…

batye
batye
March 6, 2013 10:58 am
Reply to  safeNsane

yes, I see your point, as in some cases it not smart move to put RFID tags/chicklets on 10 cents cable as RFID tags/chicklets cost more… but for big value items it would make sense on the long run… as good RFID implementatition would shrink the shrink(loss prevention), also would help with tracking inventory preventing problems of fantom stock…

safeNsane
safeNsane
March 7, 2013 8:05 am
Reply to  batye

@bayte, I’m not talking 10 cent cables, I’m talking $1000+ cables coiled in a case.  That much copper around a RFID tag has proven to be problematic for us as well as the cases that everything we handle gets packed into.

batye
batye
March 7, 2013 9:33 am
Reply to  safeNsane

I see, yes some metals could create interference or block the RFID tags…maybe solution in this case barcode inventory control system…

safeNsane
safeNsane
March 8, 2013 7:23 am
Reply to  batye

, we have a barcode inventory control system now.  We’re looking at expanding that to RFID and running into some challenges.

batye
batye
March 8, 2013 10:29 am
Reply to  safeNsane

I see… but like you said before with boxed cables it gonna be a problem with getting clear RFID tags reading… unless you/Co. attach RFID tags to the manifest/shipping invoice… outside the box… but this way it will not prevent internal shrink… also manifest/shipping invoice could get separated from the box…

safeNsane
safeNsane
March 11, 2013 5:34 am
Reply to  batye

, the problem there is that you can’t properly inventory or track items by the case they are in.  If a cable is moved from one cast to another you just lost all of your tracking ability, history and your inventory is off.  That and if you’ve got a dozen cables in one case you still have to physically touch each one to verify what is in the case.  You don’t want to just blindly scan those tags in a case like this.

batye
batye
March 11, 2013 10:34 am
Reply to  safeNsane

 yes, with cables, I see the problem… as they do not have unique identifier…

safeNsane
safeNsane
March 12, 2013 10:14 am
Reply to  batye

Exactly and therein is a large part of our problem aside from our own tagging there is no way to identify a single cable.  That means inspection gets visual if we can’t get good reads from an RFID.

batye
batye
March 12, 2013 10:36 am
Reply to  safeNsane

I think the solution is ATM approach… before giving out money… ATM – check it weight…
probably in your case you need to calculate weight of each single cable x amount + weight of the box…
 

safeNsane
safeNsane
March 13, 2013 10:32 am
Reply to  batye

I actually had a nice long talk with a researcher doing RFID work, apparently the solution to try is a newer style tag intended for use on metal, it has a thicker substrate that will get it far enough away from the cable that it can be read.  There were also some antenna tricks mentioned so it does sound like these limitations aren’t just known but they are being addressed and solutions refined. It’s just a matter of time I guess.

batye
batye
March 13, 2013 10:53 am
Reply to  safeNsane

yes, but the new onces will cost around 2.5 times more… per RFID tag….

safeNsane
safeNsane
March 15, 2013 8:17 am
Reply to  batye

The tag in particular that I’m talking about runs between $1 and $2 per tag.  Now you wouldn’t tag everything you own with this tag.  That’s part of the challenge, figuring out what you need and where to use it.

Rob Ratcliff
Rob Ratcliff
March 22, 2013 11:31 am
Reply to  safeNsane

Great discussion here that I’m only just getting back to. I suppose with tags at that cost you only tag the high-value stuff, which generally is what is most at risk?

safeNsane
safeNsane
March 25, 2013 7:44 am
Reply to  Rob Ratcliff

At that cost you’d follow a plan similar to that.  We tag lots of items now with bar codes and it only makes sense to keep tagging those same items with RFIDs but we’d obviously use less expensive tags for less important items.  You would only use the specialized tags when necessary then use less expensive tags for everything else.  Unlike bar codes you might end up with 3-04 RFID tag types depending on what they will be affixed to.

Rob Ratcliff
Rob Ratcliff
March 7, 2013 12:03 pm
Reply to  safeNsane

It’ll always get cheaper! Same as everything. Today, I saw a press release saying they’ve just invented an RFID tag that can go in the wash: it’s designed for the laundry industry, but I wonder what else you could do with a tag like that?

SunitaT
SunitaT
April 9, 2013 3:21 am
Reply to  safeNsane

It becomes a problem not of should you implement RFID but how much disruption can you handle while doing it and can you make those process changes to make them effective.
, no doubt implementation of RFID will cause disruption initially but the advantages of implementing RFID outweighs problems caused by such disruptions. RFID is not only helping the customers to secure the system but it is also acting as a deterrant against counterfeiting.

safeNsane
safeNsane
April 9, 2013 7:16 am
Reply to  SunitaT

While customer facing RFID systems are pretty common, my focus lately has been more industrial in nature, tracking items as they move in and out of our warehouses.  I can’t say that we are very worried about counterfeiting, we are more concerned with lost gear and the logistics of turning gear around in our warehouses to get it QC’d and heading out the doors again.

Rob Ratcliff
Rob Ratcliff
May 7, 2013 1:05 pm
Reply to  safeNsane

So when do you make the change? There will never be a good time, will there? But you can’t leave your security processes to get outdated.

safeNsane
safeNsane
May 8, 2013 7:28 am
Reply to  Rob Ratcliff

You’re right, there is never a perfect time to make such a major switch but there are signs that will let you know when the switch could be made successfully.  We are to the point where the ROI isn’t 20+ years anymore.  Just 5 or so years ago that was the case, it would take us so long to make up the cost difference that it just doesn’t look good on paper.  Now we’re getting down to a 5-07 year ROI and that is much easier to take when you consider that the cost of doing RFID is still falling. … Read more »

batye
batye
May 12, 2013 2:30 pm
Reply to  safeNsane

yes, ROI is play important role in the implementing technology… but if Co. need to have RFID. it more like no choice… you pay now and have less shrink and time saving… or pay at the later in the losses to the bottom line….

safeNsane
safeNsane
May 13, 2013 7:57 am
Reply to  batye

We’re at the point where we can’t say that it will minimize losses any further but it could speed up some processes once we get all the bugs worked out.  That is one of the biggest factors for us, not “can” we make it work but can we fine tune well enough that is better than our current processes.

batye
batye
May 13, 2013 10:46 am
Reply to  safeNsane

I see it nor easy or simple sitiation… but things change everyday…

safeNsane
safeNsane
May 14, 2013 8:58 am
Reply to  batye

Yeah, it’s anything but easy.  We’ve done the research a few times but this time I suspect we’re going to move forward.  We’re bigger now than ever, we’re moving more gear around and RFID has matured a good bit.  We’ll probably roll this out more slowly being very deliberate with how the RFIDs are used than someone just starting up but long term the changes should be dramatic.

batye
batye
May 14, 2013 11:34 am
Reply to  safeNsane

on my side, I just hope the RFID technology price becomes affordable… as RFID offer a lot of benefits including loss prevention and time saving 🙂

manshi
manshi
May 15, 2013 11:14 am
Reply to  batye

: Yes I too hope the same way since it is the alternative for many right now which do not have answers in the field of technology. So this can do wonders if its affordable.            

batye
batye
September 3, 2013 4:42 pm
Reply to  manshi

yes, also we should not overlook smartphones with Android reader app… for the TAG in some cases it could replace RFID…

holmesd
holmesd
September 3, 2013 4:06 am
Reply to  batye

When I’ve previously looked at RFID, though tags are fairly inexpensive, readers where expensive and prone to struggle when placed in certain areas. The potential for RFID is huge, but definitely needs to come down in price before it is utilised fully.

ITs_Hazel
ITs_Hazel
September 24, 2013 2:27 pm
Reply to  holmesd

I think there’s a disconnect on the affordability of the parts you need for this technology. I think that prevents some people from trying it out or choosing to use it. Cost is always a huge limitation and it’s one that you can’t easily ignore.

ITs_Hazel
ITs_Hazel
September 24, 2013 2:27 pm
Reply to  batye

Perhaps in time, RFID will become a more budget-friendly option. At this point, it doesn’t look like it though. 

batye
batye
September 24, 2013 6:37 pm
Reply to  ITs_Hazel

yes, it  will be sometime before, we see prices go down…

shipwreck
shipwreck
March 16, 2013 12:03 pm

RFID tags may be difficult to clone with today’s technology, but don’t bet on it in the future!
Criminals are, by and large, the most innovative folks around, and I feel sure that it is only a matter of time before any technology will be cloned.  As practitioners, we need to keep innovating in order to keep one step ahead of the crooks.

Rob Ratcliff
Rob Ratcliff
March 22, 2013 11:32 am
Reply to  shipwreck

I don’t know sometimes I think security practitioners have to keep up with criminals rather than the other way round. Changing threats are so adaptable these days

SunitaT
SunitaT
April 9, 2013 7:44 am
Reply to  shipwreck

RFID tags may be difficult to clone with today’s technology, but don’t bet on it in the future!
, I totally agree with your opinion. The development of quantum computers threatens to shatter the security of current cryptographic systems used by businesses and banks around the world. I guess they can also be used to clone RFID tags as well.

Sheh
Sheh
March 17, 2013 5:54 am

shipwreck right. I presume proactivity is the word for that. I always be surprised about hackers evil geniousness and always staying ahead of the lot. Hackers must be knowing the nitty gritty of RFIDs and then working in a direction finding loopholes. You are right if we feel secure today we cannot guarette same tomorrow. We need to invest heavily to remain safe and prgressive.

SunitaT
SunitaT
April 9, 2013 2:57 am

Due to their design, RFID tags are impossible to clone or duplicate and can also be hidden inside a product or inserted into tamper-proof stickers
, thanks for the post. Do you think DNA marking which is upcoming technology will eventually replace RFID tags ?

Robert Grossman
Robert Grossman
July 31, 2013 10:35 pm

Let’s not forget the important aspects of this technology.
With increased adoption, particularly in the consumer space, we’d finally be able to have a refrigerator — or even an entire pantry — that new what was inside it, when it would spoil, and be able to create a shopping list based on usage. And even order the food for you. 
Now you’re talking…

manshi
manshi
August 30, 2013 6:48 am

: You are talking about an intelligent electronical item I guess. I think we can use AI for this and make it more interactive.