After a high-level security review for the forthcoming Amarnath Yatra, the government has decided to track all pilgrims using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags.
GS III- Science and Technology
Dimensions of the Article:
- What is RFID tags?
- How do RFIDs work?
- Where are RFIDs commonly used?
- Is it possible to hack RFID tags?
What is RFID tags?
- It’s a wireless tracking system that consists of tags and readers.
- Radio waves are used to communicate information/identity of objects or people to nearby readers – devices that can be hand-held or built into fixed positions like poles or buildings.
- The tags can carry encrypted information, serial numbers and short descriptions.
- There are also high-memory tags like the ones designed for use in the aviation industry.
Types of RFID tags:
- Active RFID tags
- Passive RFID tags
Active RFID tags
- Active RFIDs use their own power source, mostly batteries.
- Active tags can ping information every few seconds like beacons, or they can get activated when a reader is in the proximity.
- Active tags have a longer read range, around 300 ft, compared to passive tags.
Passive RFID tags
- Passive RFIDs, on the other hand, are activated through the reader using the electromagnetic energy it transmits.
- This is enough power for the tag to transmit information back to the reader.
How do RFIDs work?
- RFID tags use an integrated circuit and an antenna to communicate with a reader using radio waves at several different frequencies – low frequency (LF), high frequency (HF), and ultra-high frequency (UHF).
- The message sent back by the tag in form or radio waves is translated into data and analysed by the host computer system.
- Unlike Barcodes, RFIDs do not require direct line of sight to identify objects. They also have a bigger range.
Where are RFIDs commonly used?
- They are practically everywhere.
- Retail giants use them for inventory tracking.
- RFID chips are used as access keys in labs.
- They are also built into credit cards and library books.
- FastTags being used for toll payments across the country are also RFID tags.
Is it possible to hack RFID tags?
- Depending on data to be shared, grades of encryption can be introduced between the tag and the reader to verify credentials.
- Memory segments of the card can hold data encrypted with cryptographic keys.
- While a casual data theft is not possible, hackers can use ‘side-channel attacks’ to extract the cryptographic information.
- But that hack is not easy to pull off given that tag manufacturers continue to improve security features.
-Source: Indian Express