RFID Security and Privacy

RFID (Radio-Frequency IDentification) is a technology for automated identification of objects
and people. Human beings are skillful at identifying objects under a variety of challenge
circumstances. A bleary-eyed person can easily pick out a cup of coffee on a cluttered
breakfast table in the morning, for example. Computer vision, though, performs such tasks poorly.
 RFID may be viewed as a means of explicitly labeling objects to facilitate their
“perception” by computing devices.

RFID today and tomorrow

Many of us already use RFID tags routinely. Examples include:

• Proximity cards, that is, the contactless cards used for building access.

• Automated toll-payment transponders – the small plaques mounted in automobile windshields.

• The ignition keys of many millions of automobiles, which include RFID tags as a theft-deterrent.

• Payment tokens: In the United States, the SpeedPass token for petrol station payments is
  an example. Contactless credit-cards, like American Express use RFID.

Some fifty million house pets around the world have RFID tags implanted in their bodies, to
facilitate return to their owners should they become lost.In a world where everyday objects
carried RFID tags, perhaps the world of the future – remarkable things would
be possible. Here are a few possibilities :

1. Smart appliances: By exploiting RFID tags in garments and packages of food, home appliances
could operate more cleverly. Washing machines might select wash cycles automatically, for
instance, to avoid damage to delicate fabrics. Your refrigerator might warn you when the milk has
expired or you have only one remaining carton of yogurt and could even transmit a shopping list
automatically to a home delivery service.

2. Shopping: In retail shops, consumers could check out by rolling shopping carts past
point-of-sale terminals. These terminals would automatically tally the items, compute the total
cost, and perhaps even charge the consumers’ RFID-enabled payment devices and transmit
receipts to their mobile phones. Consumers could return items without receipts. RFID tags would
act as indices into database payment records, and help retailers track the pedigrees of defective or
contaminated items.

3. Interactive objects: Consumers could interact with RFID-tagged objects through their mobile phones.
(Some mobile phones already have RFID readers.) A consumer could scan a movie poster to display
showtimes on her phone. She could obtain manufacturer information on a piece of furniture she likes by
waving her phone over it.

4. Medication compliance: Researchers exploits RFID to facilitate medication compliance and home
navigation for the elderly and cognitively impaired. As researchers have demonstrated, for example,
an RFID-enabled medicine cabinet could help verify that medications are taken in a timely fashion.
More generally, RFID promises to bring tremendous benefits to hospitals.
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