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RSA Laboratories

High-Power Proxies for Enhancing RFID Privacy and Utility

Ari Juels

Citation: A. Juels, P. Syverson, and D. Bailey. High-Power Proxies for Enhancing RFID Privacy and Utility. Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PET) Workshop, pp. 210-226. 2005.

Abstract: A basic radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag is a small and inexpensive microchip that emits a static identifier in response to a query from a nearby reader. Basic tags of the ``smart-label'' variety are likely to serve as a next-generation replacement for barcodes. This would introduce a strong potential for various forms of privacy infringement, such as invasive physical tracking and inventorying of individuals.

Researchers have proposed several types of external devices of moderate-to-high computational ability that interact with RFID devices with the aim of protecting user privacy. In this paper, we propose a new design principle for a personal RFID-privacy device. We refer to such a device as a REP (RFID Enhancer Proxy).

Briefly stated, a REP assumes the identities of tags and simulates them by proxy. By merit of its greater computing power, the REP can enforce more sophisticated privacy policies than those available in tags. (As a side benefit, it can also provide more flexible and reliable communications in RFID systems.) Previous, similar systems have been vulnerable to a serious attack, namely malicious exchange of data between RFID tags. An important contribution of our proposal is a technique that helps prevent this attack, even when tags do not have access-control features.

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