Ideas, Linked; Ideals, Inked.

What’s the Big Deal? – RFID Edition

RFID technology has been around for a while, already embedded in a lot of things, like those “EZPass” electronic toll booth time-savers. RFID “tags” are also showing up in “PayPass” credit cards and have been at “SpeedPass” gas stations for sometime. (“Pass” is jargonspeke for easy! Which means “EZPass” actually means “EZ easy”! Yay!)Long story short, RFID is a technology that allows things to communicate wirelessly with extremely low power.

Here’s a poor explanation of how typical RFID works:

1) A base station – like the tool booth – transmits signal (constantly).
2) An RFID device – like an EZPass in a car – has an RFID chip inside it, and picks up a signal on a specific frequency and reflects it back. BUT the reflection is changed, intentionally, to contain data. Here’s how:
– The power of the frequency from the base station actually transmits enough power to the RFID tag for the tag to send the signal through a chip which then sends a digital coded message in the reflection. This all happens more or less instantly (like echo-location). The distortion in the reflection is deliberate and readable by the base station, which can confirm if a signal is authentic.

People can be very specific with how they change the signal and how much data the reflection actually sends back. Recently, the US, along with several countries of the world, has been issuing “biometric” passports with RFID chips in them. These typically include biometric data on you in the coded message so officials can confirm a passport-holder’s identity. RFID signals have been proven to be insecure – someone with the right kind of technology can steal the data. It can and has been done (even with passports).


Filed under: Politics, Science, Tech

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Idealink by vijtable is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work by various sources, as cited.
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