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Studying Next Generation RFID Applications in the Workplace
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Studying Next Generation RFID Applications in the Workplace



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  • - Mention uncertainty here
  • NOTE: DHS Privacy Impact Assessment comment “removes risk of cloning” was in regards to Passcard (which uses same RFID technology as EDL)
  • NOTE: See backup slides for detailed example
  • Physical Access Control Example
  • Physical Access Control Example
  • Physical Access Control Example


  • 1. Evan Welbourne University of Washington, CSE C hips Ahoy? The Legal Issues Associated with RFID in the Workplace May 1, 2009 - Seattle, WA The RFID Ecosystem Project Studying Next Generation RFID Applications in the Workplace
  • 2.
    • PART 1: RFID and The RFID Ecosystem
    • PART 2: Current and Future Applications
    • PART 3: Security and Privacy Issues
    • +
    • Technical Protection Mechanisms
  • 3. Image credit: Tom Reese, The Seattle Times PART ONE Radio Frequency Identification
  • 4. What is RFID?
    • Wireless ID and tracking
    • Captures information on:
      • Identity
      • Location
      • Time
    • Unique identification
    • Passive (no batteries)
    Reader Tag
  • 5. Radio Frequency Identification
    • Wireless identification and tracking
    • Information on:
      • Identity
      • Location
      • Time
    A B C tag time location … … … t 1 A t 2 B t 3 C
  • 6. RFID Tags – A Wide Variety Consumer Item Cases Pallets Trucks Ships / Trains bar codes passive tags active tags GPS-enabled active tags Cost of tag (logarithmic)
  • 7. Elements of an RFID System RFID Reader RFID Tags Reader Antenna Network Infrastructure Data Management System Applications
  • 8.
    • The RFID Ecosystem
    • 100s of passive EPC Gen 2 tags
    • 100s of RFID antennas
    • 85,000 sq ft (8,000 sq m) building
    • Simulating an RFID-saturated future
  • 9. RFID Ecosystem at UW CSE
  • 10. PART TWO: Current and Future RFID Applications
  • 11. Focus: RFID for Real-Time Location
    • Current trend: RFID in Hospitals
      • Track equipment, patients, personnel
      • Improve utilization, track workflows
    • Rapid progression in 2009:
      • Feb 19: Awarepoint deploys RFID throughout 4 M sq. ft. Hospital
      • Feb 26: Versus Tech. deploys RFID system at Virginia Mason
      • Mar 4: St. Vincent Hospital deploys RFID workflow tracker
      • Mar 9: St. John’s Deploys RFID to track child patients
      • Mar 23: Good Samaritan tracks surgical instruments w/RFID
      • Mar 24: Western Maryland Health deploys RFID tracking system
      • Mar 25: RFID system for tracking patient files at Cleveland Clinic
      • April 14: RFID vendor Reva Systems gets $5M in VC funding
      • April 21: Greenville Hospital System tracks OR case carts
      • Ongoing…
      • [ right middle and right bottom image credit: ]
  • 12. Focus: RFID for Real-Time Location
    • Proposed in research:
      • Infer higher-level events from data
      • Business Intelligence
      • Reminding Systems
      • Social Networking
  • 13. PART THREE Security & Privacy Issues + Technical Protection Mechanisms Image credit: Karsten Nohl, from: OV-chipkaart Hack using polishing paper, a microscope and Matlab
  • 14.
    • Many attacks:
    • Encryption can improve security but…
      • Increases cost and power consumption, slows down read rate
      • -- to be useful, RFID tags have to be cheap and fast!
    • Physical security
      • Foil-lined wallet: works , but you have to remove tag sometime
      • Skimming
      • Cloning
      • Replay attack
      • Eavesdropping
      • Ghost leech
    Issue: Basic Insecurity of RFID
  • 15.
    • Case Study: WA State Enhanced Driver’s License
    • DHS claims RFID “removes risk of cloning”
      • Can be cloned easily in less than a second w/cheap device
    • Can be read more than 75 ft away
    • Sleeve doesn’t always work, worse when crumpled
    Issue: Basic Insecurity of RFID # EDL Reads, Week of Apr 27th Case study credit: Karl Koscher, Ari Juels, Tadayoshi Kohno, Vjekoslav Brajkovic
  • 16.
    • Our approach in the RFID Ecosystem:
      • 1) Store little on tags, secure link between the tag ID and PII
      • 2) Incorporate cryptographic techniques as they emerge
    Issue: Basic Insecurity of RFID
  • 17.
    • Who owns collected data?
    • Who has access to it? Modes of information disclosure :
    • Institutional
      • Organization collects, uses, and potentially shares personal data
      • Addressed by contracts, federal law, corporate practice (e.g. FIPs)
    • Peer-to-Peer or “Mediated”
      • Peers and superiors access data through some authorized channel
      • Mediated by access control policies
    • Malicious
      • Personal data is compromised by unauthorized parties
      • Addressed by secure systems engineering
    Issue: Data Access & Ownership
  • 18.
    • Our approach: “Physical Access Control Policy”
      • Each user has a personal view of the data
      • Each user has access to only those historical events that occurred when and where s/he was physically present
      • Models line-of-sight, augments memory
    • Other “context-aware” policies are possible:
      • “ Only reveal my location during business hours”
      • “ Only reveal my activity when I am in a meeting”
    Issue: Data Access & Ownership
  • 19.
    • 1) In practice, RFID tags are often missed by readers
    •  Data cleaning algorithms are commonly applied
    • 2) Further, apps need high-level information from smoothed data
    • Event detection and data mining algorithms applied
    • But there is always a “ sensory gap” between what actually occurs, what is sensed and what is inferred from the data.
    Issue: Uncertainty of RFID Data
  • 20.
    • Our approach: Directly represent uncertainty with probabilistic data e.g. “Bob could be in his office (p = 0.5), the lounge (p = 0.1), or next door (p = 0.4)”
    Issue: Uncertainty of RFID Data
    • Problem: probabilistic data is huge; and compressed by throwing away less likely possibilities.
  • 21.
    • 1) Use what security the technology provides
      •  Should improve with time
    • 2) Verify implementation meets security/privacy claims
    • 3) Access control can help enforce a policy framework
    •  Novel, context-aware access controls are a possibility
    • 4) RFID data and higher-level info inferred from it probably should not be considered actionable
    Main Takeaways
  • 22. Thanks
    • Thank you!
      • Check out our blog:
      • Follow us on Twitter!
      • See publications for details:
  • 23. Backup Slides Backup Slides…
  • 24. Privacy & Security Discussion…
    • Just having an RFID tag could be a privacy risk
    • Pseudonymity not Anonymity
      • Each RFID tag you carry has a unique number
      • Sequential readings of your tags create a trace
      • Over time this trace can be used to identify you
      • “ The person who: wears this sweater, takes this bus, uses this bus stop, shops at this grocery, …”
    • U.S. privacy law doesn’t consider these traces to be PII
      • European and Canadian law may handle this better
    • Important to discuss these issues
      • RFID is increasingly ubiquitous, may be in the REAL ID cards
  • 25. Security of Tags and Readers
    • Promise: Provides a faster, easier payment option
    • Problem: Name, #, expiration sent as plaintext
      • $150 homemade device can steal and replay credit cards
      • Next generation of cards includes better security
    • Promise: Faster border-crossings, improved security
    • Problem: Identity, nationality sent in the clear
      • Malicious parties can easily identify / target U.S. citizens
      • Revised passport includes faraday shielding and BAC
    First generation RFID credit card vulnerabilities (UMass Amherst, RSA labs) Security and Privacy Risks of the U.S. e-Passport (UC Berkeley)
  • 26. Data Privacy and Security RFID and Contactless Smart Card Transit Fare Payment
    • Promise: Streamlines transit experience and book keeping
    • Problem: Massive databases with transit traces of individuals
      • Not entirely clear what data is private and how it can be used
      • Oyster card data is the new law enforcement tool in London
        • Increasing # of requests for Oyster data: 4 in all of 2004 61 in Jan. 2007
    ORCA Card: RFID-Based Transit Card for Seattle Area (August 2008) Promise: Streamlines transit experience and book keeping Integrated with easy pay and institutional partners Problem: The word “privacy” appears twice in 500 pages of docs…
  • 27. Data Privacy and Security
    • From RFID Ecosystem user studies:
      • “ How do I know if I have a tag on me?”, “How do I opt out?”
      • Users must be carefully educated before consenting
      • There should be equal, available alternatives to the RFID option
    • If personal RFID data is stored:
      • Clearly define how each piece of information can and will be used
      • Define and enforce appropriate access control policies
        • May depend on user, application, and context of use (PAC)
      • Formal data privacy techniques to further ensure privacy (K-anonymity)
        • Store only the information you need, and add noise!
      • Provide users with direct access to and control of their data
  • 28. Time: 0 ’ s data store ’ s data store ’ s data store 0 0 0 sightings timestamp sightings timestamp sightings timestamp
  • 29. Time: ’ s data store ’ s data store ’ s data store 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 sightings timestamp sightings timestamp sightings timestamp
  • 30. Time: ’ s data store ’ s data store ’ s data store 1 1 1 0 0 0 2 2 2 2 sightings timestamp sightings timestamp sightings timestamp