Panelists Weigh Potential RFID Security Threats

Similar to other wireless technologies, there are security risks for companies that don't secure their RFID networks by using equipment with built-in protocols such as secure shell and Secure Sockets Layer.
Radio Frequency identification technology is facing network security challenges. That's the consensus from TechBiz Connection panelists participating in a discussion on RFID last week at an industry gathering in Irvine, Calif.

Similar to other wireless technologies, there are security risks for companies that don't secure their RFID network by using equipment with built in protocols such as secure shell and secure socket layer. "It will probably happen," said Jon Fullenkamp, executive director of RFID Systemedia at NCR Corp. "But you have to remember that you're only going to capture an identification number off the tag."

Company executives need to keep in mind as they design networks for supply chain applications that RFID works on a wireless platform. "It's very, very, very easy to defeat any wireless system," said Vinay Gokhale, executive vice president for RFID products at Impinj Inc.

The concern from privacy groups is cyberpunks could sneak into networks to steal consumer identities, and that the unique identification number programmed into the RFID tag would become the single point of failure and gateway into trouble.

The security threat doesn't come from a hacker breaking into the RFID tag and steeling the electronic product code information. It will come from intercepting the information as it travels from the RFID reader to the network.

Secure shell and secure socket layer, two basic security technologies, are expected to become standards for RFID equipment, said Kevin Ashton, vice president at ThingMagic Inc, which has begun to integrate these technologies into their RFID readers. Ashton didn't attend the TechBiz event, but said "As RFID projects moves from test phases to actual deployment more CIOs will insist on that level of security."

TechBiz is a non-profit professional trade association that organizes monthly events for Southern California executives, technology professionals and entrepreneurs.

Panelists included Rajit Gadh, a professor at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of California, Los Angeles, and founder and director of the Wireless Internet for Mobile Enterprise Consortium (WINMEC); Bob Kleist, CEO, president and founder of printer company Printronix Inc.; Vinay Gokhale, vice president of RFID business development at Impinj Inc.; Jon Fullenkamp, executive director for RFID Systemedia at NCR.; and Marlo Brooke, president at consulting firm Avatar Partners.

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