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Project Database
Project Reference: ITP/028/07LP
Project Title: Privacy Protection and Communication Security in RFID Systems
Hosting Institution: LSCM R&D Centre (LSCM)
Abstract: Widely regarded as one of the most influential technologies in the 21st century, RFID has inspired a new wave of technology development that spans from silicon circuits to product packaging, from item level identification to supply chain automation. However, as the new technology prevails into people's daily life, serious concerns regarding privacy protection and data security are beginning to rise up. These concerns have become the major barrier that hinders RFID's further deployment.

Current RFID standards, e.g., ISO 18000-6B/C (UHF) or ISO 15693 (HF) use open communication channels, where data exchanged between readers and tags can be easily intercepted by unauthorized parties. The enlarged communication range enabled by UHF Gen2 (18000-6C) standard, posts a potential threat to people's privacy because personal data can be read out at a distance without being noticed. Furthermore, when RFID tags are embedded into the consumer products, consumers either do not have the access to disable the tag's functionality (need authorization from a reader) or have no easy ways to destroy the tags physically without damaging the product itself, thus privacy and personal information are always at risk.

The recently approved regulation on Chinese RFID frequency band allocation (May 2007) will facilitate the deployment of RFID technology, and create great opportunities for both domestic and foreign vendors. The Chinese regulation exhibits significant differences comparing with its counterparts by FCC (North America), ETSI (Europe) or even Hong Kong SAR. These differences will have significant impact not only on RFID tag and reader hardware designs (IC and systems), but also on security and privacy applications in the Chinese market as well.

The research scope of RFID privacy and communication security will focus on a wide range of technologies that include IC design, encryption algorithms, antenna design as well as material engineering and product packaging. As a starting stage, this seed project will explore and identify the potential enabling technologies in 1) A protocol with data encryption mechanism to ensure communication security 2) A protocol to enable the adjustable reader-tag communication range to ensure communication within authorized proximity, and 3) A tag design with self-destruction mechanism to ensure RFID tags can be disabled permanently at consumer's discretion. Furthermore, this seed funding project will help to expand and broaden the research scope of LSCM center for future R/D activities, and define and deliver a long-term research project on RFID privacy and data security issues.
Project Coordinator: Dr. Terry Ye
Approved Funding Amount: HK$1.97M
Project Period: 20 Aug 2007 - 19 May 2008
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