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RSA Laboratories

The Physical Basis of RFID Security

Citation: A. Juels: The Physical Basis of RFID Security. RFIDSec. 2010.

Abstract: Data security is usually an exercise in crafting information flows. RFID tags' behavior, though, depends heavily on their physical environment. Because they are tiny, passive (i.e., battery-less) devices, issues such as power consumption, read range, and physical placement directly impact security and privacy for RFID tags. In this talk, I'll illustrate the physical basis of RFID security protocol design with a number of examples from recent research, namely: (1) Cloning of RFID-enabled travel documents, and how power calibration in readers can help prevent it; (2) How power-consumption characteristics of "computational" RFID tags inspire new trust models; (3) How physical tagging costs can act as an incentive for good behavior in supply chains; and (4) Why a physical view of RFID suggests that anti-tracking privacy, a mainstay of RFID security research, is probably futile.

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