Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Viruses can taint radio frequency ID tags

Viruses can taint radio frequency ID tags:
Technology could be used to aid terror, research says


A group of European computer researchers has demonstrated that it is possible to insert a software virus into radio frequency identification tags, part of a microchip-based tracking technology in growing use in commercial and security applications.

In a paper to be presented today at an academic computing conference in Pisa, Italy, the researchers plan to demonstrate how it is possible to infect a tiny portion of memory in the chips that is frequently large enough to hold only 128 characters of information.

Until now, most computer security experts have discounted the possibility of using such tags, known as RFID chips, to spread a computer virus because of the tiny amount of memory on the chips.

The tracking systems are intended to improve the accuracy and lower the cost of tracking goods in supply chains, warehouses and stores. Radio tags store far more data about a product than bar codes and can be read more quickly. They have even been injected into pets and livestock for identification.

The chips already have prompted debate about privacy and surveillance, given their tracking ability. Now the researchers have added a series of worrisome prospects, including the ability of terrorists and smugglers to evade airport luggage scanning systems that will use RFID tags in the future."

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