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    Archive for the ‘RFID’ Category

    Houston Chronicle: Tracking devices used in school badges

    Monday, October 18th, 2010

    Earlier this year, Northern Arizona University announced plans to use wireless ID card reader technology — the description sounds like radio frequency identification (RFID) technology — to track student attendance in classes, and I discussed my objections.

    Those were college students. Now, the Houston Chronicle reports that two school districts in Texas (the Spring and Santa Fe school districts) are using RFID badges to track kids.

    Identification badges for some students in both school districts now include tracking devices that allow campus administrators to keep tabs on students’ whereabouts on campus. School leaders say the devices improve security and increase attendance rates. […]

    But some parents and privacy advocates question whether the technology could have unintended consequences. The tags remind them of George Orwell’s Big Brother, and they worry that hackers could figure a way to track students after they leave school. Identity theft and stalking could become serious concerns, some said. […] Read more »

    Op-Ed at San Francisco Chronicle: Misguided use of microchip technology

    Friday, September 17th, 2010

    The San Francisco Chronicle has an editorial about the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to track children’s attendance in a head start program. (RFID systems transmit data wirelessly from a chip or tag to a reader.)

    Officials with Contra Costa County’s Head Start program were frustrated. In order to meet federal requirements, they had to take attendance every hour. These and other administrative tasks were taking up a lot of teachers’ time – between one and three hours a day per teacher – and using up a lot of the program’s limited funds. […]

    But we can’t support what those officials did next, which was to implement a microchip tracking program for those very young children.

    The child-tracking initiative is called Child Location, Observation and Utilization Data System (CLOUDS). This summer, the first part of the system was installed at the George Miller III Center in Richmond, which provides free or reduced-cost child care under the federal Head Start program. About 200 students between the ages of 3 and 5 were assigned basketball jerseys that were embedded with the electronic locator chips. The idea is that the tracking devices are a quick way to take attendance. They also send signals to administrators whenever a child strays out of his or her assigned area. […]

    But Contra Costa officials also should have done their homework on the history of these devices in California – and about the very real privacy and safety concerns that they’ve created. Read more »

    San Francisco Chronicle: Privacy concerns grow with the use of RFID tags

    Thursday, September 9th, 2010

    The San Francisco Chronicle takes a look at the growing use of t radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. (RFID systems transmit data wirelessly from a chip or tag to a reader.) In recent months, we’ve seen reports that: RFID systems that transmit data between new cars’ electronic control units and their tires can be forged or intercepted, which could identify the location of the car and driver; Wal-Mart will use RFID tags  to track the clothing sold in its stores; and security questions have been raised about RFID-enabled credit cards.

    It has been proven time and again that unsecured RFID tags can be scanned and the data gathered with cheap, off-the-shelf technology. Some states have laws that would protect such data. For example, Washington state has a law to prevent “skimming” (unauthorized gathering of data from RFID tags).

    Now, the Chronicle reports on some privacy issues that people have raised about the use of RFID technology.

    But while businesses see RFID as a way to obtain valuable information about their products’ whereabouts, critics worry that the expansion of this technology might peel away yet another layer of privacy. Read more »

    IDG News Service: Tire pressure monitor systems could reveal driver location

    Thursday, August 12th, 2010

    IDG News Service reports that researchers from Rutgers University and University of South Carolina have found that radio frequency identification (RFID) systems that transmit data between new cars’ electronic control units and their tires can be  forged or intercepted, which could identify the location of the car and driver. (RFID systems transmit data wirelessly from a chip or tag to a reader.) The report (pdf), “Security and Privacy Vulnerabilities of In-Car Wireless Networks: A Tire Pressure Monitoring System Case Study,” was released in February but will be presented at this week’s Usenix Security Symposium in Washington, D.C.

    IDG interviews Wenyuan Xu, a computer science assistant professor at the University of South Carolina, who was a co-lead on the study.

    The system that the researchers tested monitors the air pressure of each tire on an automobile. The U.S. has required such systems in new automobiles since 2008, thanks to legislation passed after controversy erupted over possible defective Firestone tires in 2000. The European Union will require new automobiles to have similar monitoring systems in place by 2012.

    As computerized systems are being increasingly used in automobiles, critics such as Xu are asking what safeguards system makers are putting in place to prevent vulnerabilities in such systems, knowing that bugs and security holes invariably sneak into all software. […] Read more »

    Wall Street Journal: Wal-Mart Radio Tags to Track Clothing

    Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

    The Wall Street Journal reports that Wal-Mart will use radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to track the clothing sold in its stores. RFID systems transmit data wirelessly from a chip or tag to a reader. It has been proven time and again that unsecured RFID tags can be scanned and the data gathered with cheap, off-the-shelf technology.

    Starting next month, the retailer will place removable “smart tags” on individual garments that can be read by a hand-held scanner. Wal-Mart workers will be able to quickly learn, for instance, which size of Wrangler jeans is missing, with the aim of ensuring shelves are optimally stocked and inventory tightly watched. If successful, the radio-frequency ID tags will be rolled out on other products at Wal-Mart’s more than 3,750 U.S. stores. […]

    Wal-Mart’s broad adoption would be the largest in the world, and proponents predict it would lead other retailers to start using the electronic product codes, which remain costly. Wal-Mart has climbed to the top of the retailing world by continuously squeezing costs out of its operations and then passing on the savings to shoppers at the checkout counter. Its methods are widely adopted by its suppliers and in turn become standard practice at other retail chains. […] Read more »

    CBC (Canada): New credit cards pose security problem

    Thursday, June 10th, 2010

    CBC News reports on security questions surrounding credit cards that are “contactless,” meaning they use radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. (RFID transmits data wirelessly from a chip or tag to a reader).

    It has been proven time and again that unsecured RFID tags can be scanned with cheap, off-the-shelf technology, but people remain shocked when confronted with the evidence. Some states have laws that would protect such data. For example, Washington state has a law to prevent “skimming” (unauthorized gathering of data from RFID tags).

    CBC News reports:

    Most newly issued credit cards pose major fraud and privacy concerns because of how they’re designed to be scanned through the air, some cyber-security experts warn. […] Read more »