All technology, RFID included, isn’t 100% safe, since there is always a risk of malicious interactions and human error. However, RFID technology can be secure and safe, lowering your organization’s data loss risk. Combining RFID technology and an RFID scanning application with advanced security is a safe way to manage inventory. Human health is also not at risk around RFID technology.
- Tips to Make RFID More Safe
- RFID vs. Regular Scanning
- How to Implement RFID for Your Business
7 Tips to Make RFID More Safe
RFID is an ideal solution for data and identification inventory, ensuring efficient and effective data processing. Since RFID chips can contain valuable data such as banking info, malicious people may want access to it. Individuals can try to access your RFID data illicitly by these two methods:
- Skimming – skimming is when a tag is read through a stealthy reader. Most systems configured with a commonly used protocol are at risk of being skimmed.
- Eavesdropping – we can’t see or hear the connection between an RFID reader and a tag. Eavesdropping is when an individual using a receiver picks up on the transmission and steals data during this exchange if there’s no protection in place.
Here are seven handy tips to ease these worries and ensure your RFID technology is safe.
1. Using Switches
Using switches means a button must be pressed or switched to activate a tag. This ensures that a tag won’t be read unless someone has given consent. Skimmers won’t be able to access a tag’s information unless they come into contact with it. This also means the data cannot be accessed unless a skimmer can physically contact a tag. This is an ideal method for the protection of personal belongings. However, it can slow down rapid RFID reading.
2. Using Shields
Shields are a physical method of ensuring tag data protection. Tags with shields have a removable insulated covering that is only removed when the tag’s owner allows it to be read. It’s an ideal method for personal use but not for labor-intensive warehouses.
3. Mutual Authentication
With mutual authentication, a sensor sends a signal to a tag, which the tag deciphers using a specific key that both parties know. When a tag has been unsuccessful, the tag sends back the information to the reader to be deciphered. They allow for data transmission if the reader and tag are sure that neither is an imposter. No one can steal data via skimming with this method as no other scanner will have the special key required, and because the key won’t be sent between the tag and reader, eavesdropping won’t work.
4. Password Locks
A lock password has a 32-bit code that must be sent before a tag allows data transmission. A 32-bit has many possible combinations preventing a skimmer from accessing the data. This method is mainly used for the protection of passive UHF systems with limited computative abilities.
5. Kill Codes on Tags
As you develop your RFID system, you’ll associate all products with tags. The tags usually contain private data, which, if stolen, can be a considerable risk to an organization. This is why it’s advisable to include an option to “kill” any tag by enabling a kill code. When a kill code destroys a tag, it becomes unresponsive, preventing hackers from accessing its data.
6. Cover Coding
Sometimes, a reader’s signal is louder than a tag’s, and outsiders can easily pick up its data transmission. Cover coding works when a reader asks a tag for a random number, and the tag quietly sends the number. The corresponding communications are then done using this number, which is hard for a third party to figure out.
7. One-sided Encryption
One-sided encryption is an excellent method for the prevention of skimming and eavesdropping. In this method, the reader alone participates in a tag’s encryption. All the data sent to a tag has been encrypted, and the data transferred from the tag to the reader is decrypted. All computation happens inside the reader, making the tag cheaper. Any data from the tag or the communications between the reader and tag that are skimmed will be undecipherable.
RFID vs. Regular Scanning
RFID scanning and regular (barcode) scanning are two of the most popular methods organizations use to track and identify products in their inventory. Choosing between the two can be challenging if you’re unsure of each one’s benefits. Most people would first consider the cost difference, and RFID tags can sometimes be ten times more expensive than barcode scanners.
RFID is the preferred choice because it scans several things simultaneously, but barcode scanners need a person to manually scan everything individually. Both RFID and barcodes have advantages and disadvantages, and when deciding which system is the best option for your business, consider these factors:
- What you will need to track
- The security factor of the data you are tracking
- Where the tracking is needed
- Method of tracking
- Your budget for the ideal system
How Does RFID Work?
RFID is an acronym for radio frequency identification. This is when radio waves transmit data between RFID tags and an RFID reader. The tags have sensors linked to antennas that enable data transference to the reader. The sensors have unique identifiers, and readers can scan over 100 tags simultaneously without needing line-of-sight visibility. The system easily automates mini processors that could take up resources and time and be subject to human error.
How Does Barcoding Work?
A barcode scanner uses a beam of light to read information from black and white lines within a barcode. Each scanner has a sensor that forms a signal from the reflected light, which a decoder translates into text and then sends to a database or computer. Barcodes must have a line of sight to see and scan every barcode individually to save the data.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using RFID
Advantages of RFID
- Compared to barcode scanners, RFID scanners can read tags from a great distance, up to 100 meters.
- RFID scanners don’t have to have a line of sight to scan tags.
- RFID tags are only read/write.
- Hundreds of RFID tags can be scanned simultaneously, and RFID scanners read much faster than barcode scanners.
- Once an RFID system is set up, it requires minimal human participation.
- RFID tags hold several data options, such as shipping history, product maintenance, and expiry dates. All of which are easily programmed into each tag.
- Due to their protective plastic covering, RFID tags are more durable.
- Highly secure. The data in RFID tags can be password protected, encrypted, or have a “kill” feature enabled that can permanently delete data.
- An RFID tag can identify every unit of product instead of only a single product, like a barcode.
- You can make the best of both worlds and have RFID tags printed with barcodes, so you also have the benefits of barcode scanning.
Disadvantages of RFID
- Because RFID chips are read/write, they can’t be ready by the same machine.
- RFID uses computerized chips, which are more costly.
- RFID readers may have difficulty reading information through liquid.
- If several tags in one area respond simultaneously, this causes a tag collision.
- When signals from two different readers overlap, and the reader can’t respond to both, a reader collision happens.
- Due to a wide reading range, an RFID tag can be accidentally read.
- Implementing RFID takes more time than generating barcodes.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Barcode Readers
Advantages of Barcode Readers
- They’re lighter and smaller, making them easier to use.
- Because barcodes are printed directly onto paper or plastic, they’re not costly.
- Barcode accuracy is the same for many different materials.
- They’re universally used in stores worldwide.
- Barcode accuracy is generally on par with that of RFID.
- Almost every item today is barcoded.
- Unlike RFID tags, barcodes are environmentally friendly thanks to ink usage and not metal or plastic.
- Less possibility of human error.
- Uses extended technology with vast compatibility.
- The information provided is accurate.
- A barcode system is affordable and easy to implement.
- Provides specific information without the need for a special tool to be understood. E.g., where a product was made, which isn’t possible with RFID tagging.
Disadvantages of Barcode Readers
- Barcode readers require a direct line of sight to scan barcodes.
- To scan it, They must be at least 15 feet near a barcode.
- No read/write options, and there’s no way to add extra information like expiry dates.
- Because each barcode has to be scanned individually, they’re labor intensive.
- Barcodes can easily be forged and so are less secure than RFID.
- Because a line of sight is needed for scanning, a barcode must be shown outside of all items, making them susceptible to damage.
- Once a barcode has been damaged, the item can’t be scanned.
- Much slower processing.
How to Implement RFID for Your Business
Here are ways RFID can be beneficial for a business:
- Enhancing store operations – RFID can send notifications when something is out of stock, or the inventory is low. RFID can also display where products are located in backrooms and inform employees of how many they can pull.
- The health sector – RFID readers are used in health sectors for managing nursing homes, hospitals, pharmacies, and clinics. They can control the movement of patients, monitor medical supplies, and manage personnel’s access to restricted areas.
- Access control – Manage access in and out of organizations using RFID access control systems, including readers, tags, and computer servers, permitting entry only to those registered and with the required credentials.
- Analyze traffic patterns in-store – A product’s movement can be tracked within a store, and this information provides pinch points, end caps, and various product and employee paths in a day.
- Provide contactless payment options – contactless payments are transactions made using a key fob, debit/credit card, or a mobile phone. Customers can go through RFID checkouts and pay for products.
- Improve the accuracy of stock counting in-store – Most inventory processes are manual and time-consuming. Using RFID, whole shipments can be monitored instantly instead of scanning things individually and using blind receipts. Items in stock can be easily located, the cycle count time is reduced, and products can be automatically reordered at stock safety levels.
- Monitor the temperature of products – some products, like perishable goods, have to be stored at specific temperatures. RFID tags have sensors that can track the temperature and store a log of information within the tag.
- Monitor livestock or pets – Pet and livestock owners can utilize RFID scanners to track the movement of their livestock or pets. RFID-enabled doors or gates can provide data on when pets or livestock pass through or wander out of their premises. Tags are also ideal because they are durable and can withstand rain and sun exposure.
- Inventory control – RFID readers monitor all warehouse incoming and outgoing inventory, including staging, picking, and shipping. This information can be utilized for your stock-taking. RFID readers scan various tagged products, like cases and pallets, at high volume.
- Car rental – RFID can detect when a car has been returned, allowing customers to park in a spot and leave. RFID also complements GPS favorably in various fleet management needs. Less expensive RFID tags can work well for local tracking purposes.
Talk to an Expert
RFID technology is safe and extremely useful for inventory control, enhancing store operations, managing access in and out of organizations, providing contactless payment solutions, and much more. Some methods of improving RFID safety include the use of switches, password locks, and mutual authentication.
The main disadvantage of barcode readers is that they require a direct line of sight to read barcodes, whereas RFID does not. RFID can scan hundreds of tags simultaneously and from a far distance, whereas barcode scanners need to scan individual barcodes. Different organizations and businesses require additional security measures.
Choosing the best security measure for your RFID usage is a factor to consider before implementing an RFID system, and you need professional guidance for your implementation strategy. For more information or assistance in purchasing and setting up an RFID system, contact the experts at Energy Electronics today, and our professional support team will respond swiftly.