What is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)?

RFID stands for Radio-Frequency Identification. It is a small electronic device which has a small chip and an antenna. This chip generally carries 2,000 bytes of data or less.

It works the same as a bar code or a magnetic strip on the back of a credit card or ATM card providing a unique identifier for the object. The RFID device is just like a barcode or magnetic strip used to scan to retrieve the identifying information.

It is one of the wireless non-contact uses of radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data, for identifying and tracking tags attached to objects automatically. The tags have electronically stored information. Some tags are powered and read at short ranges through magnetic fields.

Some are used as a local power source like a battery, or else have no battery but collect energy from the interrogating EM field, and work as a passive transponder to emit microwaves.

Battery powered tags can operate at hundreds of meters. The tag does not need to be within line of sight of the reader, and it can be embedded in the tracked object.

Components of RFID

A radio frequency identification system (RFID system) has three components which are as follows −

  • Antenna or coil

  • A transceiver (with decoder)

  • A transponder (RADIO FREQUENCY TAG) electronically programmed with unique information.

A common RFID security or privacy concern is that RFID tag data can be read by anyone with a compatible reader. In addition, tags can often be read after the item leaves the store or supply chain.

Tags can be read without the user's knowledge, suppose if the tag has a unique serial number, then it can be associated with a consumer. As a privacy concern for individuals, in military or medical settings this can be a national security concern or life-or-death matter.

RFID tags do not have a more compute power, generally they are unable to accommodate encryption, like challenge-response authentication systems. These tags are used in passports, basic access control where the chip has sufficient compute power to decode an encrypted token from the reader proving the validity of the reader.

At the reader side, in turn, the information printed on the passport is machine-scanned and used to derive a key for the passport.

The information is divided into three and used as-- the passport number, the birth date of the passport holder and the passport's expiration date along with a checksum digit for each of the three.

Updated on: 22-Mar-2022


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