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RFID Fingerprints To Fight Tag Cloning

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the cloning-is-bad-haven't-you-seen-scifi dept.

Privacy 59

Bourdain writes with news out of the University of Arkansas, where researchers are looking for ways to combat counterfeit RFID tags. Passive tags typically wait for a reader to transmit a signal of the appropriate strength and frequency before sending their own transmission. The scientists found that the amount of power required to trigger this varies quite a bit from one tag to the next, especially when many different frequencies are sampled. This and other physical characteristics give the tag its own "fingerprint" that is independent of the signal information stored in its memory, which the researchers say will facilitate the detection of cloned tags.

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Why /. fired Michael (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30182070)

January 31st, 2005, was the last day that Michael Sims, Nazi editor of Slashdot [blogspot.com] [blogspot.com], ever posted a story or indeed was ever heard from again. But what happened that day to Michael Sims? Did his embroilment in the Censorware.org conspiracy finally catch up with him? Or was he involved in a violent, and ultimately fatal, lovers' spat with his partner Jamie McCarthy? The truth, as we'll see, is much more perverse than fiction.

On New Year's Eve of 2004, the entire Slashdot staff was throwing a party to celebrate another year of Linux propaganda, homosexual recruitment, and the profits that their Microsoft ad banners had raked in for them. Eric Raymond, Emad, Roblimo, Hemos, Taco, Jamie, and Alan Cox all planned to rape Richard Stallman later in the night. Michael had shown up late, however, and was let in on the plans after they were made.

As it turned out, Jamie was to be leading the charge against the Free Software Foundation's founder and would be the first to penetrate Stallman's hairy unwashed ass. Michael, however, was jealous of this and made secret plans to thwart their nefarious venture of homosexual rape. The event was planned for zero hours, right as the ball dropped. But Michael had other ideas.

Michael suggested they all toast their plan with JÃgermeister, Eric Raymond's drink of choice that was in heavy supply that night, and the rest of the partygoers followed. While everyone downed their first shot, Michael slipped into the VA Software office's break-room, grabbing the syringe Raymond used to inject Rob Malda's semen with on the way. Michael leered at the case of JÃgermeister, needle in hand.

Minutes later, Michael reappeared in the conference room with more JÃger, ready for more shots. Over the next couple of hours they indulged in several drinking and party games, spurred on by Michael, as they drank bottle after bottle of the dark brown herbal liquor. If one were to pay special attention to Michael, however, they would note that Michael drank much less than anyone else and only from his own bottle.

Emad and Roblimo were involved in a powerful sixty-nine cheered on by Hemos and Alan whose bent geek penises throbbed near Emad's head and Roblimo's bloated ass, waiting for an opportunity. Moaning, Emad diverted his wet mouth from Roblimo's butthole and took down Hemos and Alan's cocks in quick succession. Hearing the wet, sloppy commotion behind him, Roblimo lost control and glunked all over Emad's chest.

Across the room near the podium, Eric Raymond was man-handling Rob, jamming a handgun down the back of his pants and asking him if he remembered their special night in Holland [blogspot.com] [blogspot.com]. Rob was giggling like a school girl and squirmed with all his might against the cold steel. Eric rained a shower of JÃger over Rob's head which Rob greedily tongued up even as Eric's skinny red penis entered his ass cheeks, probing for the brown prize.

The conference room was awash in gay cum and chaos, Michael noted happily as he surveyed the carnage around him. Emad had now teamed up with Alan and Hemos to rape Roblimo's ass as Rob was being pistol-whipped to orgasm by Eric, all oblivious to the massive amounts of Rohypnol they were ingesting as they drank the JÃgermeister Michael had given them. It wouldn't be much longer before the drug took effect.

Another half-hour into the night, Eric paused from raping Taco's mouth and sodomizing his anus with his Glock, short of breath. His head swam and he looked at his bottle of JÃgermeister. I can usually down six of these babies, thought Eric, wondering why he was now farting uncontrollably. Rob's nose wrinkled as Eric's rectum expelled another gallon of aerosolized feces into the air. Stooping, Eric held on to the podium for support.

Across the way, Emad pulled his tiny Iranian dick out from between Alan and Hemos's in Roblimo's ass and doubled over. Alan and Hemos continued pounding Roblimo's purple, swollen anus even as Emad began vomiting all over their cocks, thinking it a move on Emad's part to spice things up. Roblimo passed out again for the fourth time that night, but as Hemos slapped him, he failed to wake up.

With Emad vomiting even more violently now, Hemos wondered what was going on. He held a hand to his head as he began forgetting why he was balls-deep in some old man's ass. Alan began hiccuping, which led to uneven strokes and finally a quick orgasm which was quickly washed away by more of Emad's vomit. Nausea rose in Alan's throat as the scents of semen, man-ass, sweat, and vomit overcame him.

Michael was smiling from the corner chair at the table when the telecom beeped. He quickly left the conference room and headed toward the VA Software compound's front doors to let RMS in. As he rounded the last corner, however, Michael almost dropped his bottle of untainted JÃger when he saw that Stallman was not alone. Standing next to him was the CEO of VA Software, Larry Augustin.

His mind racing a thousand miles a minute, Michael feigned a security malfunction when he tried to open the door, leaving Stallman and Augustin stranded outside in the cold. Waving Michael off, Larry Augustin was about to get a slim-jim when he stopped, staring, right behind Michael. There, crawling on the ground, was Rob Malda in his familiar green-and-white plaid shirt, covered in chunks of semen, blood, and feces.

Rob Malda looked up at Augustin and feebly reached out to him before vomiting on the cold tile floor and passing out with a squish in his own sick. Larry and Richard's faces were masks of horror and disgust, and they wasted no time in forcing open the doors. Larry disabled the alarms while Richard checked Rob's pulse. As Richard loosened Rob's collar, Larry turned to Michae, gglaring, and shouted, "What the Hell happened here tonight?"

The conference room was a mess. Feces covered the wall and in some places even the ceiling. The carpet was soaked with blood, semen, diarrhea, and vomit in a stew so unimaginable that the room was later bulldozed instead of being professionally cleaned. On the dry erase board, someone had gotten creative and drawn erect, ejaculating penises in their own poo. And behind the podium lay Eric Raymond, sleeping fitfully.

At the other end of the room, Emad was curled into fetal position surrounded by a lake of vomit and curdling shit, both trailing from his soiled form nothing new [blogspot.com] [blogspot.com] to him. Hemos and Alan laid moaning next to one another, limp dicks in one another's slimy hands. Behind them Roblimo's morose form breathed shallowly, ass in the air where he had passed out earlier. He farted in his sleep as Larry Augustin looked on, mouth agape.

Next week, Larry Augustin held a special meeting with the Slashdot staff. Emad, Jamie, Roblimo, Rob, and Hemos all seated themselves and the meeting began. Eric Raymond also showed, though everyone there seemed a little perplexed. Their party had gotten messy but no one remembered how. Eric wanted especially hard to remember, he thought as he patted his stomach, which still gurgled painfully.

Early in the wee hours of January 1st, 2005, Larry watched as sickened paramedics loaded VA employee after VA employee into the backs of ambulances and raced them to the hospital. They were treated for dehydration and were all given stomach pumps, enemas, and several rounds of antibiotics. They were also tested for drugs and the results were more than a little surprising. Michael, however, had been the only one to test negative.

Hour after hour went by in the VA board-room as each one of the partygoer related their experience. Roblimo, now wheelchair-bound, took the mic and shared his experience that mirrored everyone else's: After his first few toasts of JÃgermeister, he remembered nothing save waking up a day later in the hospital, tubes and wires trailing from his bruised body. Roblimo was suffering from a rectal prolapse.

It was decided by a unanimous vote that Michael Sims was to be fired with due haste, as he had drugged the entire Slashdot staff in an attempt to rape them. Unfortunately, due haste took about three-and-a-half weeks so the shareholders could approve the move. Their reaction to the story removed any doubt about Michael's fate and the motion was carried unanimously. Michael was terminated January 31st, 2005.

So now you know why Michael Sims hasn't posted any new stories to Slashdot since January. Let it be a warning to you, gentle reader, of what evil lurks in the hearts of psychotic Linux zealots and Nazi propagandists. Since then the boys at Slashdot have been able to laugh it off, but consider their depraved anus-games. You might not be so lucky were Michael Sims to happen to you. You have been warned.

Re:Why /. fired Michael (-1, Offtopic)

BlueWaterBaboonFarm (1610709) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182076)

tldnr

Security enhancement at best (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30182088)

If you can read the fingerprint, so can anyone...

So what's to stop a dedicated attacker from reading the fingerprint when they read the tag contents, and then devising a method to duplicate all the data?

An active tag might even be programmed to emulate the fingerprint characteristics.

Re:Security enhancement at best (3, Funny)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182116)

Simple; they'll keep the algorithm a secret! ;^)

Re:Security enhancement at best (1, Informative)

sdiz (224607) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182276)

Those fingetprints are physical charactistics due to manufacturing process. You can't duplicate them in software.

Re:Security enhancement at best (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30182504)

Then duplicate them in hardware?

Re:Security enhancement at best (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30183678)

I'm pretty sure the point is that you can't duplicate them in the manufacturing process either, hence the reason for the varying characteristics in the first place. It's not like the factory the makes the RFID units has been deliberately setup to give random individual characteristics to different units. If that was part of the design, then these scientists didn't really "find" anything, did they?

Re:Security enhancement at best (4, Informative)

cortesoft (1150075) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182290)

I don't know if it will be that easy. These fingerprints seem to be based on the fact that all RFID chips have flaws, and they are all flawed in different ways.... including the device that is trying to act as the clone of the RFID. What this means is that this clone RFID has to be able to mimic EXACTLY the flaws of the real thing without giving itself away by its OWN flaws. Without knowing more details about the flaws they are trying to measure, it is hard to say whether that would be possible. If the flaws are easily mimicked in the sense that you can create a clone whose own defects are not detected because they are all superseded by the original's flaws, it may work. If they vary so much that every clone will have some flaw that is severe enough to shine through, it would be impossible.

Re:Security enhancement at best (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182496)

It would ideally force fake goods vendors to buy or steal the genuine RFID tags to forge, that's all. Given that the RFID tags themselves, like bar tags, must remain far less costly than the actual goods, this means very little to the economics of forging the tags unless the vendors can be bothered to very closely monitor sales of the genuine tags. Somehow, this seems unlikely for such bulk items which are also manufactured primarily overseas.

Re:Security enhancement at best (2, Insightful)

vojtech (565680) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182636)

It just means the clone will have to be a bit more expensive.

Cloned tags aren't using the same cheap chips that the common passive tags do. An attacker can afford to carry batteries with him and make the tag completely locally powered. Then he has much more powerful electronics at his disposal and can simulate whatever frequency response the original tag had due to its cheap (few cents per tag) design.

This fingerprinting will do no more than to force the attacker to pay a few bucks more to create a clone.

Re:Security enhancement at best (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30182684)

They only have to meet the measurement device's standards for EXACTLY not some ideal perfect copy. So that means you need to be able to copy the measurable characteristics, which doesn't mean a perfect clone. Just a perfect mimic.

Re:Security enhancement at best (1)

lsatenstein (949458) | more than 4 years ago | (#30191372)

I guess we are in need of smart rfid tags, as are used on our Montreal Public Transportation system. A smart-card solution. If RFID was used, it could read a code sent from the host, use it with another to generate a hash number, which the host could validate. Counterfeit RFID units would not generate the correct hash result. (Shades of public key encryption).

Re:Security enhancement at best (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182370)

So what's to stop a dedicated attacker from reading the fingerprint when they read the tag contents, and then devising a method to duplicate all the data?

An active tag might even be programmed to emulate the fingerprint characteristics.

I RTFA and I feel like I'm missing something.
They have a fingerprint of the RFID... and?
Are they proposing to embed the fingerprint in the RFID's data as a CRC/encrypted check?
Are you going to create a database of fingerprints and query it when the tag gets scanned?

I can't be the only one wondering what's the practical application of the discovery.

Re:Security enhancement at best (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182418)

> Are you going to create a database of fingerprints and query it when the tag gets scanned?

I guess this is the case. So when the RFID chip is initially embedded in whatever (box/device/etc...), it gets this 'special' scan, and the data would need to be stored/transmitted separately/securely to the receiver (basically, wherever they want to perform a 'copy' check) at various points of the items travels.

This would help enable the ability to detect both replacement of the product (so you can tell if your shipment was stolen), as well as copying the product to sell to other customers (so you can tell that the contents of a shipping container is real and not knockoffs).

It amounts to an extra level of checking, that is assumed to be more difficult to forge.

Re:Security enhancement at best (1)

Bourdain (683477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182902)

If you can read the fingerprint, so can anyone... So what's to stop a dedicated attacker from reading the fingerprint when they read the tag contents, and then devising a method to duplicate all the data? An active tag might even be programmed to emulate the fingerprint characteristics.

If you can read the fingerprint, so can anyone

-true, that's not the point, no one can WRITE the fingerprint (or at least it would be prohibitively difficult to do so currently)

An application of this could include:
-Secure building entry; the building could maintain a database of both the RFID fingerprint and the RFID data and only grant admission to those with that combination (the RFID data would, in theory, also contain information about its fingerprint as well)

-RFID isn't meant to be an encryption system, it's meant to be more like a more efficient bar code

Re:Security enhancement at best (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30186320)

RFID tags are made by 'glueing' a small chip onto an antenna. The quality of the chip, antenna, connect etc all affect the characteristics of the RFID tag.
What UofA is referring to is infering those characteristics by looking at the frequency response of the tag.

The problem is, to make this precise characterization of a RFID tag you need a controlled environment (RF chamber). It would be much easier to associate a particular RFID tag with some physical property (Iike biometrics for items - I've heard about randomly placing fibers in a label - the placement of the fibers is remember along with an RFID tag's serial number. When that serial number shows up, you check the label for the fibers - if they are in the right place, then all is good. To hack that, you would have to be able to replicate fiber placement on a microscopic level.

Of course, tagged humans you just match it up to biometrics.... Unless they clone the human as well....

Potentiometer (2, Interesting)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182134)

So if I have a pot wired across the power receiver, I can twiddle it until it matches. If people know the factors being sampled, they can adjust them.

Re:Potentiometer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30182798)

But you'll have a hard time doing that to _my_ reader.

i just got off the toilet (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30182144)

i shit out an obama.

plop!

Does this say the same at 55-70+ mph or just at (3, Interesting)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182158)

Does this say the same at 55-70+ mph or just at much lower walking speeds?

Re:Does this say the same at 55-70+ mph or just at (1)

coolsnowmen (695297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182332)

Please excuse my ignorance, by why would a difference of 50 mph matter to an rfid signal?

Re:Does this say the same at 55-70+ mph or just at (1)

GMC-jimmy (243376) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182424)

I'll take Doppler-shift [wikipedia.org] for $50, Alex.

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just guessing that was what he was referring to.

Re:Does this say the same at 55-70+ mph or just at (1)

coolsnowmen (695297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182474)

HAHAHA, I'm hoping not. The Doppler shift is a function of proportional velocity, that is, it isn't until you are moving at a fraction of the speed of LIGHT are EM waves effected. A conservative estimate puts that at about c/1.003/1000 = 186 miles per second.

So when you have a car that goes that fast [at or away from your receiver/transmitter], your EM frequencies might get noticeably shifted, but on this planet, you'ld also probably be on fire.

Re:Does this say the same at 55-70+ mph or just at (0, Redundant)

GMC-jimmy (243376) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182580)

Perhaps a Redshift [wikipedia.org] then? C'mon, have some fun. :)

Re:Does this say the same at 55-70+ mph or just at (1)

coolsnowmen (695297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30185938)

I'm not sure why you were modded redundant this deep, fuck that guy.

But the only reason I know about redshift/blueshift speeds is that (years ago) after reading "a brief history of time" I wanted to calculate how fast a car would have to be moving for the red light to actually be green...and then I was dismayed when I found that no man-made vehicle had ever gone that fast or was even an order of magnitude close to going that fast.

Re:Does this say the same at 55-70+ mph or just at (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30182904)

HAHAHA, I'm hoping not. The Doppler shift is a function of proportional velocity, that is, it isn't until you are moving at a fraction of the speed of LIGHT are EM waves effected. A conservative estimate puts that at about c/1.003/1000 = 186 miles per second.

Considering that police radars, use and have always used Doppler shift, for finding out the speed of the target vehicle, you are certainly underestimating the possibility of using it for estimating objects speed. (Yes I know that the radars use the fact that the source and the receiver are in the same device).

Re:Does this say the same at 55-70+ mph or just at (1)

coolsnowmen (695297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30185912)

Considering that police radars, use and have always used Doppler shift, for finding out the speed of the target vehicle

What you've said, is not true. Higher frequency radar are used because they have less dispersion. These LASER speed guns do not rely on Doppler shift.
Instead the take a series of accurate distances, and solve r=d/t.

Re:Does this say the same at 55-70+ mph or just at (1)

slashtivus (1162793) | more than 3 years ago | (#30188670)

What about Doppler Radar used in weather? A quick Wiki read indicates it is detecting a frequency shift to determine velocities. Rain certainly is not moving at a fraction of the speed of light.

Re:Does this say the same at 55-70+ mph or just at (1)

coolsnowmen (695297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30205118)

It is my fault for not explaining properly. I'll try again. Either, the target is moving so fast that the frequencies are shifted out of band (not likely), or any shift can be compensated for because range-rate of the device can estimated.

Even so, Realistically none of this matters. Because detector for things like this can be placed orthogonal to the direction of motion so that the doppler effect is non-existent.

What's the point? (2, Interesting)

AdamInParadise (257888) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182210)

Just use a sensible crypographic authentication mechanism and be done with it. I guess that it is interesting from a "pure science" point of view but I'm not quite sure that this should be used to detect fake passports.

Re:What's the point? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30182268)

They are dealing with passive RFID chips, so they probably want to keep the chips cheap and put the smarts in the reader. I agree that simply using more expensive RFID chips would make far more sense if security is an issue.

Re:What's the point? (2, Interesting)

sdiz (224607) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182270)

These are passive tags, i.e. ultra-low power consumption. You can't put any decent crypto on it.

Re:What's the point? (4, Insightful)

cortesoft (1150075) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182320)

Crypto wouldn't work... the cloner doesn't have to break the encryption to copy the chip.

Imagine in this way.... you have an encrypted hard drive, and someone wants to pass off their hard drive as yours. They don't have to break the encryption... they can copy the drive byte for byte, and hand it to the person who if verifying that is the original. The person checking the data is the one who does the decrypting.

Re:What's the point? (0, Offtopic)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182498)

If your hard drive only sends data when it has authenticated the motherboard how do you plan on reading the hard drive to copy it in the first place?

Re:What's the point? (1)

The -e**(i*pi) (1150927) | more than 4 years ago | (#30184708)

bit by bit

Re:What's the point? (3, Informative)

owlstead (636356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182962)

Depends on the chip. If you include ISO 14443 processor cards then you can have crypto, combined with secure on chip storage of the key of course. You are giving away this chip, so you must make sure that the chip storage and on board crypto is sufficiently protected against attacks. E.g for passports you can have active authentication or chip authentication to verify that the chip is not cloned.

Re:What's the point? (2, Informative)

owlstead (636356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30183010)

Replying on myself here, but the original article does not seem to include processor chip technology.

That and it should have read ISO 14443 processor chips of course, not ISO 14443 processor cards. It's Saturday morning over here - need cafeine.

Re:What's the point? (3, Insightful)

AdamInParadise (257888) | more than 4 years ago | (#30183040)

Encrypting a hard drive protects the confidentiality of its data. It does not prevent you from cloning the hard drive i.e. it does not protect the authenticity of the hard drive.

In many applications that use RFID tags, authenticity is much more important than confidentiality. Those researchers seem to propose a way to authenticate the RFID tag using its "fingerprint". What I'm saying is that a dynamic challenge-response scheme is much more practical and more reliable.

Crypto is not only about encrypting data.

Re:What's the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30183660)

Yes it would, because when you want security, you don't store encrypted data onto a readable memory chip (be it proximity or contact smart card).

What you do is put a chip on a card with which you talk using keys in other to authenticate. The card authenticate the reader, and the reader authenticate the card. When both are satisfied that the other is legit, then the content part of the chip is opened and handed over to the reader. ie "I'm employee 1234"

The solution for security has been around for decades using encrypted and challenge based smartcard devices, but people keep on using glorified RFID tags to open their doors.

Re:What's the point? (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 4 years ago | (#30183858)

I think RFID crypto involves things like challenge-response. They can still do that on passive tags.

Also, what do the US passport RFID tags use that prevents copying?

Re:What's the point? (2, Interesting)

oljanx (1318801) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182490)

It's not practical for a passive RFID tag to provide cryptographically secure authentication. Only a very small amount of power can be transmitted from the reader to the tag, just enough to transmit back a fairly simple ID. If you want a secure challenge/response mechanism it would require much more power, an active tag would be required.

Re:What's the point? (1)

AdamInParadise (257888) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182786)

If you want a secure challenge/response mechanism it would require much more power, an active tag would be required.

An active RFID tag (i.e. a battery powered tag) is not required. Just look at DESFire cards: probably not as cheap as passive RFID tags but they can handle a simple challenge/response mechanism. If you want something more beefy, look at the DDA mechanism specified by EMV and used by Visa and Mastercard: it uses RSA with 3 levels of public keys. It works just fine on simple microprocessor-based contactless cards.

Are we actually fixing anything here? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30182388)

So... we're now looking into methods of physical authentication for digital authentication data that was intended to replace physical authentication?

Wouldn't it be easier (and cheaper) to go back a step?

Passive tags will never be secure... (3, Informative)

oljanx (1318801) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182454)

Because it's not practical to produce a reader capable of transmitting enormous amounts of power, the complexity of passive tags is inherently limited. They are essentially glorified bar codes. This type of "fingerprinting" might add another level of complexity to the identification of tags, but it's not going to prevent counterfeit tags. At best it will slow down the production of counterfeit tags by an insignificant amount of time.

Solution looking for a problem (0)

mac1235 (962716) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182710)

Who is cloning RFIDs yet? Seriously, who?

Solving the wrong problem (5, Insightful)

lhunath (1280798) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182724)

RFID tags are not security devices, they are hyped barcodes. They do not provide any authentication.

If you're worrying about your RFID tags being cloned for a malicious purpose, you are using them for the wrong thing.

Re:Solving the wrong problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30182846)

google://rfid+passport
Try to convince them.

Re:Solving the wrong problem (1)

mtremsal (1554627) | more than 4 years ago | (#30184364)

Can anyone give me an example of a situation where someone would want to clone RFID tags ?
Who would be using them for authentication ?

Re:Solving the wrong problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30185496)

I agree they should be using cryptographically secure tags and I thought that they were doing so for some things. This needs public key cryptography and a central key repository.

It sounds as if they're going to try security through obscurity when all it will take is someone scanning features till they get one to pass.

I *want* electronic parts such as IC's, capacitors, resistors, etc to have such high grade RFID microtags it's getting to the point we have to test every part. Right now we're testing the high dollar parts. We have to do this because if we get a run of fake crap we're screwed on the cost to create the assembly and the cost to rework it and in some cases reworking it is not an option.

Re:Solving the wrong problem (1)

Ozlanthos (1172125) | more than 4 years ago | (#30187066)

It smells to me like they are getting ready to chip us all. Can't have you masquerading as Obama. It'll probably be MANDATORY in Obamacare.

-Oz

I think I get it... (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182788)

Ok, at first, this made no sense to me. The trouble I had was understanding how the flaws(uncontrolled manufacturing artifacts) would be of any use. I think I finally figured out what that poorly written article was trying to get across.

Say, for example,you have 200 million different passports. They should have 200 million different PROGRAMMED sets of information. At the time the passport is issued, the RFID is scanned to detect the FLAWS in it. This is recorded and filed away somewhere. The FLAWS are recorded as a specific signature that is in turn referenced to the PROGRAMMED data.

In order to detect a counterfeit passport all they have to do is make sure the flaw fingerprint matches the programmed data.

But seeing as how the article just told the entire world how they tell what the fingerprint is, I don't think it would be long before the cloners simply modify readers to start at a low frequency then ramp up until they get a signal and make sure the counterfeit responds the same way, at the same frequency. It could be as simple as smacking the RFID against a table until the RFID "flaws" react the way you want them to. In short, keep changing it until it reacts the same way as the original.

Ok, someone tell me I'm wrong because I'm not sure I'm right.

This is nothing new (4, Informative)

ian_mackereth (889101) | more than 4 years ago | (#30182988)

This sort of physical characteristic fingerprinting has been done for years on magnetic stripe cards and EEPROM smartcards, so this is nothing new in theory, just in what physical characteristics are being measured.

In mag stripes, the magnetic remanence of the strip is different from card to card, in EEPROM, differences in the voltage levels and speed of reading of the cells are used.

The general principle is that it's no point having unbreakable crypto if the data can simply be copied to a new medium. Consider a card (of whatever type) that stores monetary value for public transport or photocopying or whatever: Put $100 on it and copy the data, not knowing which bits are what. Copy that data onto a heap of cards bought with $5 of credit on them and sell them in the grey market for $50 each and pocket the profit.

With this sort of technique, though, part of that encrypted data is a fingerprint based on the physical characteristics of the original card. The new cards will generate a fingerprint in the reader that doesn't match the original, making the copies invalid.

Sure, if you can crack the encryption, this method is useless, but that's not the point. Crypto can be pretty good and costs more than a cheap reader/writer to break to duplicate cards/RFIDs.

full clone (2, Interesting)

Spaham (634471) | more than 4 years ago | (#30183028)

well, they'll just have to clone that parameter too.
Unless of course the industrial process used to create the tags makes each one of them a bit different,
hence defeating the identification in the first place.

Re:full clone (1)

ian_mackereth (889101) | more than 4 years ago | (#30183072)

well, they'll just have to clone that parameter too. Unless of course the industrial process used to create the tags makes each one of them a bit different, hence defeating the identification in the first place.

Yes, the individual nature of the devices is the whole point of the exercise.

No, that doesn't defeat the identification, it allows/enhances it. It means that, unless the copier can decrypt the data and encrypt with a new fingerprint, the fingerprint parameter on the copied device won't match the value generated by the reader using the physical characteristics.

Fingerprinting capability very limited..... (2, Insightful)

jcochran (309950) | more than 4 years ago | (#30183102)

given what the article says.

What they're measuring is the minimum power level that a given RFID will respond to. This opens up two major issues.

1. A database of the response curves is needed in order to uniquely identify the RFID chip in question.
2. Since the power received follows the inverse square law, one of the major advantages of an RFID chip is negated. Namely the ability to scan for it's presence without having to have exact location. They need to precisely control the distance from the RFID chip and the reader in order for that technology to work. And if they need that level of control, why not use a contact based technology?

Observation looking for relavence (1)

dzoey (578558) | more than 4 years ago | (#30184066)

I wonder if their data will scale? Is it effected by temperature changes? Humidity changes (especially Gen2 tags)? It's one thing to notice the uniqueness of a few hundred chips, but it a passport database could have billions of entries, or say a database of tagged cash with trillions of entries, would entries still be unique under varying temperature and humidty? Or just mostly unique, like social security numbers? Another way of reducing counterfeiting is to track where the item is supposed to be in a secure database (or secure databases linked by secure communications) and if the tag shows up in an unexpected place, investigate further. In the passport example from the article, if passport X is known to be in the US and its counterfeit tries to be used in France, that should trigger further examination. Of course, this requires all the passport computers to communicate world wide which could be administratively difficult, but probably not a lot more difficult than figuring out which database of response curves to query.

Re:Observation looking for relavence (1)

jcochran (309950) | more than 4 years ago | (#30187480)

Actually, the detectable set of flaws doesn't have to be globally unique.
Say you have a population of 1 million RFIDs that you consider suitable for this higher level of authentication. And assume that you have a set of 1000 detectable "fingerprints" of potential flaws.
That means that if someone were to attempt to duplicate one of the protected RFIDs, they would only have a 1 in a thousand chance of doing so successfully.

How reliable is this? (1)

Trevin (570491) | more than 4 years ago | (#30184930)

Given that the fingerprint is due to "radio-frequency and manufacturing differences" and "significantly different for same-model tags," isn't it also possible that a tag's fingerprint may vary over time?

And if the idea is "to detect counterfeit tags," how can they do that if tags of the same model have different fingerprints?

Quantum tags? (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30190532)

But the act of embedding the correct fingerprint signature into the RFID tag might change the signature! How's that cat doing, anyway.
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