Latest RFID technology at risk from denial-of-service attacks

New ultra high frequency RFID tags are vulnerable to denial-of-service attacks, academics in Australia have warned.

New ultra high frequency RFID tags are vulnerable to denial-of-service attacks, academics in Australia have warned.

Researchers at Edith Cowan University, Perth, said the vulnerabilities found in UHF RFID tags “are of concern for anyone trying to implement a RFID system that would have mission critical or human life issues involved”.

The university’s SCISSEC research group found, documented and tested a range of attacks on first-generation UHF RFID tags. “Our team has successfully demonstrated a denial-of-service attack in the laboratory against Gen1 tags and readers,” the researchers reported. Attacks could be carried out from a metre away.

The researchers added that the Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) used for reading tags in many countries did not provide immunity to DoS attacks, as is often assumed.

“Whilst it is true that a frequency hopping reader unit may avoid a noisy channel by hopping to the next, an RFID tag is not able to do this. The tag effectively regards the entire band as a single channel. Hence it will attempt to read any identifiable signal which occurs within any channel, anywhere within the entire band,” the researchers said.

This sort of interference on a single channel would cause the RFID tag or the reader to enter a communication-fault state.

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