January 29, 2014

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RFID Tags: Securing the Internet of Things 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.

An RFID Chip (Image by Maschinenjunge via Wiki Commons)

An RFID Chip
(Image by Maschinenjunge via Wiki Commons)


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.

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