Military Embedded Systems

RFID and asset authentication: Enabling true security measures


August 11, 2010

Neil Mitchell

MIKOH Corporation Limited

Tracking military wares is integral to efficient logistics, cost savings, and most importantly, security. RFID tags are often used for security purposes, but the results can be disastrous when RFID tampering occurs. However, there is a remedy.

Streamlining logistics, compliance demands, and tuning processes to increase cost savings, efficiencies, and revenues is only part of the overall benefits RFID can deliver. In areas where security is of great importance, authentication is a piece of the RFID system that is often overlooked. Without the proper technologies in place, certainty that an RFID tag is tracking the item it is intended to track just cannot be guaranteed.

For instance, what if an RFID tag separates from its asset or is applied to another object or container? Or, worse yet, what if the RFID tag remains on a container but the contents of that container are removed or replaced? In either case, the accuracy of the RFID system is compromised.

These are just a few examples of why it is critical to maintain a one-to-one relationship between the tag and the asset. Without this, the benefits of RFID will not be fully realized. Physical tamper protection of the RFID tag itself is the solution to this issue (Figure 1). If a tag is tampered with, the tag is permanently altered or destroyed.


Figure 1: A tamper-evident RFID tag in the process of being destroyed during a tamper event




If implemented correctly, the RFID tag can have the option to secure assets by serving as a seal. With special consideration given to the tag and reader location, as well as the need for inclusion of other electronics, the ability to read the tag confirms the authenticity and wholesomeness of the asset.

An RFID system without these types of physical tamper-evident indicating tags is an incomplete system that invites fraud and compromises security.

Neil Mitchell, VP Marketing for MIKOH Corporation Limited, delivers expertise in security solutions for automatic vehicle identification, secure asset tracking, digital marking, and secure network online identification. Over the past 20+ years, he has worked for STMicroelectronics, NXP Semiconductors, and Xceive. Mitchell can be contacted at [email protected].

MIKOH Corporation Limited


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