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RSA Laboratories

Tailing RFID Tags for Clone Detection

Citation: D. Zanetti, S. Capkun, and A. Juels. Tailing RFID Tags for Clone Detection. NDSS, 2013. To appear.

Abstract: RFID (Radio-Frequency IDentification) is a key emerging technology for supply-chain monitoring and detection of counterfeit and grey-market goods.

The most prevalent RFID tags are, however, simply "wireless barcodes," themselves vulnerable to cloning and counterfeiting.

While continuous monitoring can, in principle, detect cloning attacks, real-world supply chains often contain significant blind zones where tag readings are unavailable, allowing attackers to inject counterfeit goods with cloned tags into supply chains undetectably.

This paper introduces tailing, a novel approach, both simple and practical, for detecting cloned RFID tags in supply chains. With tailing, RFID readers write random values to tags as they pass through a supply chain, creating in each tag a tail composed of random values.

The tails of legitimate tags and cloned ones diverge over time, making cloning detectable by a centralized detector even across blind zones. We show that tailing works with existing barcode-type tags (e.g., EPC tags). The centralized detector is non-interactive, and requires no modification of existing supply-chain data flows.

We characterize the cloning-detection efficacy of tailing analytically and through supply-chain simulations, showing that tailing presents high detection rates and low false-positive rates, as well as rate tradeoffs outperforming those of previous schemes.

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