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1- What is the RFID and How it is working .

2- Which type of security problems are when somebody uses an RFID system

3- How can somebody improve the level of the security .

4- Compare RFID and NFC systems .

What is the RFID and How it is working .

RFID is abbreviation of Radio Frequency Identification. RFID signifies to

tiny electronic gadgets that comprise of a small chip and an antenna. This
small chip is competent of accumulating approx 2000 bytes of data or
information. RFID devices is used as a substitute of bar code or a magnetic
strip which is noticed at the back of an ATM card or credit card, it gives a
unique identification code to each item. And similar to the magnetic strip or
bar code, RFID devices too have to be scanned to get the details (identifying

A fundamental advantage of RFID gadgets above the other stated devices is that
the RFID device is not required to be placed exactly near to the scanner or RFID
code reader. As all of us are well aware of the difficulty which store billers face
while scanning the bar codes and but obviously the credit cards & ATM cards need
to be swiped all though a special card reader. In comparison to it, RFID device can
function from few feet away (approx 20 feet for high frequency devices) of the
scanner machine.

Functioning Principle of RFID Device:

RFID (radio frequency identification) is a technique facilitating identification

of any product or item without the requirement of any line of sight amid
transponder and reader.
RFID Structure is continuously composed of 2 main hardware components.
The transponder which is located on the product to be scanned and the
reader which can be either just a reader or a read & write device, depending
upon the system design, technology employed and the requirement. The
RFID reader characteristically comprise of a radio frequency module, a
controlling unit for configurations, a monitor and an antenna ti investigate
the RFID tags. In addition, a number of RFID readers are in-built with an
extra interface allowing them to forward the data received to another system
(control system or PC).
RFID Tag The actual data carrying tool of an RFID structure, in general
comprise of an antenna (coupling element) and an electronic micro-chip.

Active & Passive Tags:

Before we move ahead to the working of the RFID systems let us know what
active & passive RFID tags are

RFID is a common term employed to describe a device which is employed

in transferring data with the help of radio waves. RFID tags comprise of a
RFID transceiver for transferring data from one system to another. There are
2 kinds of RFID tags- Active tags & Passive tags.

Passive RFID Tags:

Passive tags comprise of 3 key components, namely, an in-built chip, a substrate
and an antenna. The in-built chip is also known as a circuit and is utilized to
perform some precise tasks along with accumulating data. Passive RFID tags can
comprise of various kinds of micro-chips depending on the structural design of a
particular tag. These chips can be MO (read only) or WORM (write once chip
other than read many) or RW (read write) chip. A general RFID chip is competent
of accumulating 96 bits of data but some other chips have a capacity of storing
1000-2000 bits.Passive tag has an antenna which is attached to the micro-chip.
This antenna is employed for transferring data using radio waves. The passive tags
performance is reliant on the size of the antenna. In the performance of tags the
shape of the antenna also plays a significant role. The third part of the tag is
substrate , the substrate is a plastic coating or Mylar which is employed to unite the
antenna & the chip. Passive RFID tags are smaller in size as well as cheap on
pockets too.

Active RFID Tags:

Active tags comprise of same components that exists in passive tags. They too
comprise of a micro-chip and an antenna but the only comparison between the two is
that the size of the micro-chip in active tags is larger than passive tags chip. An active
tag is incorporated with a built-in power supply. Maximum of the active tags make use of
batteries whereas some of them work on solar cells. The inbuilt power system facilitates
the tag to be used as an independent reader which is competent of transferring
information devoid of outer assistance. Active RFID tags are available with some extra
features such as microprocessors, serial ports & sensors. The highly developed
technology in existing in active RFID tag formulates it more capable in comparison to
passive tags as the active tags can be easily employed for a large array of tasks.

RFID Micro-Chip tags are basically fabricated to function at certain frequencies which
are license free.

These are:

High Frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz

Microwave 2.45 GHz
Ultra High Frequency (UHF) 868-930 MHz
Low Frequency (LF) 125-135 KHz
Microwave 5.8 GHz

How RFID Works:

The diagram below describes the fundamental working of all RFID systems. The transponder or
tag can be either active of passive tag. It reacts to the signals from the reader or writer or
interrogator which in turn conveys signals to the computer.
Which type of security problems are when somebody uses an RFID system

RFID Sniffing

Sniffing is a major of concern in deploying RFID solution. RFID readers always

send requests to the tags to send back its identity information. Once the reader
reads information sent by the tag, it verifies it with the data stored in a backend
server. Unfortunately, most of the RFID tags do not have a way to discriminate
between a request sent by a valid RFID read and a fake RFID reader. An attacker
can use his own RFID reader to read the tags and use it for their own purposes.


By reading information received from RFID tag an attacker can track the
location and movement of an object or a person. When a tag is attached to an
object and the object enter the RFID readers field, the RFID read can
identify the object and locate its position. So, you need to remember that
whenever you attach an RFID tag to an object, you need to accept that fact
that an attacker can track your object even if you are using encrypted
messages to communicate between the tags and the RFID readers. An
attacker can use mobile robots in order to track the location.

In a spoofing attack, the attacker masquerade as a legitimate user of the

system. The attacker can pose himself as an authorized Object Naming
Service user or database user. If an attacker can successfully get access to the
system with his spoofed credentials he can do whatever he wants with RIFD
data such as responding to invalid requests, changing RFID id, denying
normal service or even writing malicious code in the system.

Denial of Service

When a reader request information from a tag, it receive the identification id

and compares it with the id stored in the database server. Both the RFID
reader and the backend server are vulnerable to denial of service attacks.
When DoS attack takes place, the tags fail to verify its identity with the
reader and as a result the service gets interrupted. So, you need to make sure
both the reader and the database server has mechanism to fight against denial
of service attack.

Physical Attacks\

It happens when an attacker physically obtain tags and alter its information.
Physically attack can take place in a number of ways such as an attacker using a
probe to read and to alter the data on tags. X-ray band or other radial band destroys
data in tags, which an attacker can use to attack an RFID system-this type of attack
is also known as radiation imprinting. Electromagnetic interference can disrupt
communication between the tags and the reader.

Beside, anyone can easily remove tags from objects with knife or any other tools,
which will make your object unrecognizable by the RFID reader.


Like any other information system, RFID is also prone to virus attacks. In
most cases the backend database is the main target. An RFID virus can either
destroy or disclose the tags data stored in the database disrupt the service or
block the communication between the database and the reader.
How can somebody improve the level of the security

RFID has been used for decades to control access to buildings. Companies
issue badges or cards with transponders that have serial numbers stored in a
database. If your serial number is approved, you can enter a building or its
sensitive areas. This has helped to reduce theft of corporate assets. The
technology has also been used to decrease ticket counterfeiting, and to
control access to large events, such as the Olympics.

In addition, RFID can help to reduce the theft of national or company secrets.
One way to accomplish this is to place tamper-resistant RFID transponders
on sensitive documents (national defense plans, for instance, or corporate
research and development plans). A reader is installed in each photocopy
machine, and every time someone attempts to photocopy sensitive
documents, that person must first scan his or her ID. The reader also
interrogates the tag in the document. If the person lacks permission to scan
that document, the photocopier will not work.

RFID has also been linked to closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems, to

reduce the theft of valuable goods within the supply chain. In 2006, Sony
Europe installed a tracking system at its largest European distribution
warehouse, located in Tilburg, the Netherlands, that linked RFID-tagged
items with closed-circuit video, in an effort to help the company reduce
shrinkage, increase the efficiency of its shipping processes and resolve
shipping disputes with its retailer customers in Germany (see Sony Europe
Implements Video-RFID Tracking System). The system allowed managers to
locate specific video segments during which specific RFID tags were read, so
that they could see what happened to the products containing those tags.

Compare RFID and NFC systems

Short Answer:

RFID is the process by which items are uniquely identified using radio
waves, and NFC is a specialized subset within the family of RFID
technology. Specifically, NFC is a branch of High-Frequency (HF) RFID,
and both operate at the 13.56 MHz frequency. NFC is designed to be a secure
form of data exchange, and an NFC device is capable of being both an NFC
reader and an NFC tag. This unique feature allows NFC devices to
communicate peer-to-peer.

Long Answer:

By definition, RFID is the method of uniquely identifying items using radio

waves. At a minimum, an RFID system comprises a tag, a reader, and an
antenna. The reader sends an interrogating signal to the tag via the antenna,
and the tag responds with its unique information. RFID tags are either Active
or Passive.

Active RFID tags contain their own power source giving them the ability to
broadcast with a read range of up to 100 meters. Their long read range makes
active RFID tags ideal for many industries where asset location and other
improvements in logistics are important.

Passive RFID tags do not have their own power source. Instead, they are
powered by the electromagnetic energy transmitted from the RFID reader.
Because the radio waves must be strong enough to power the tags, passive
RFID tags have a read range from near contact and up to 25 meters.

Passive RFID tags primarily operate at three frequency ranges:

Low Frequency (LF) 125 -134 kHz

High Frequency (HF)13.56 MHz
Ultra High Frequency (UHF) 856 MHz to 960 MHz
Near-field communication devices operate at the same frequency (13.56
MHz) as HF RFID readers and tags. The standards and protocols of the NFC
format is based on RFID standards outlined in ISO/IEC 14443, FeliCa, and
the basis for parts of ISO/IEC 18092. These standards deal with the use of
RFID in proximity cards.

As a finely honed version of HF RFID, near-field communication devices

have taken advantage of the short read range limitations of its radio
frequency. Because NFC devices must be in close proximity to each other,
usually no more than a few centimeters, it has become a popular choice for
secure communication between consumer devices such as smartphones.

Peer-to-peer communication is a feature that sets NFC apart from typical

RFID devices. An NFC device is able to act both as a reader and as a tag.
This unique ability has made NFC a popular choice for contactless payment,
a key driver in the decision by influential players in the mobile industry to
include NFC in newer smartphones. Also, NFC smartphones pass along
information from one smartphone to the other by tapping the two devices
together, which turns sharing data such as contact info or photographs into a
simple task. Recently, you may have seen advertising campaigns that used
smart posters to pass information along to the consumers.

Also, NFC devices can read passive NFC tags, and some NFC devices are
able to read passive HF RFID tags that are compliant with ISO 15693. The
data on these tags can contain commands for the device such as opening a
specific mobile application. You may start seeing HF RFID tags and NFC
tags more frequently in advertisements, posters, and signs as its an efficient
method to pass along information to consumers.
At the end of the day, NFC builds upon the standards of HF RFID and turns
the limitations of its operating frequency into a unique feature of near-field

Do you have an NFC enabled smartphone? Leave a comment below telling

us if you have or havent used your phones NFC capabilities. If youre
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