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PCB - PCB Physically Changeable Bit for Preserving Privacy...

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PCB: Physically Changeable Bit for Preserving Privacy in Low-End RFID Tags Cliff C. Zou School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science University of Central Florida Orlando, FL 32816 [email protected] May 2006 Abstract Consumer privacy is a major concern impeding the wide deployment of radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags in consumer market. To tackle this privacy issue, a simple and ef- fective approach is proposed in this paper via adding one bit called ”physically changeable bit” (PCB) in RFID tags. The PCB bit can and only can be altered ”physically”. It controls whether RFID tags respond to queries sent by RFID readers. In this way, tags can be deac- tivated and reactivated easily by their owners via a simple device or even with no device. On the other hand, adversaries cannot track tags deactivated by their owners since adversaries cannot reactivate those tags “remotely”. PCB design is based on the fundamental assumption that adversaries have no physical contact with RFID tags owned by others. When extended with multiple built-in PCB bits, RFID tags can be configured to respond with appropriate ID information to queries while still preserving consumer privacy at the same time. PCB design combines the remote-identification benefit of RFID technology together with the safety of cur- rent barcode system, and most importantly, easy to be understood and accepted by general consumers. 1 Introduction An RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) tag is a system that transmits the identity (in the form of a unique serial number) of an object or person wirelessly using radio waves [5]. Although its functionality is similar to barcode identification system, RFID technology promises many benefits to manufacturers and consumers. Barcode system requires a person to manually scan labels or 1
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tags one by one, while RFID is designed to enable readers to automatically capture data on tags wirelessly and transmit it to a computer system without needing a person to be involved [5]. Due to its tremendous benefits, people believe that RFID is going to be widely deployed in the near future. Because of the remote access property of RFID tags, privacy becomes a serious concern [8, 9]. For example, adversaries can silently read RFID tags on you to know what products or medicine you have bought, what cloths you wear, etc. To solve this privacy issue, the most obvious way is to cryptographically enforce the authentication of RFID readers and encryption of tags’ serial numbers. However, this approach is only valid for high-end RFID tags that have their own power source and enough computation/storage resources, such as highway electronic toll pass (e.g., EZ- pass [1]), ExxonMobil Speedpass, etc. For low-end RFID tags in consumer market, where each tag is supposed to be 5 cents or less, it is very hard to use cryptography or hash function [7, 8] to pro- tect privacy considering the high computation power owned by adversaries and the complicated issue in authentication. In addition, these approaches are hard for consumers to understand and
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