Tuesday, March 02, 2010

"WIRELESS: 'Silicon DNA' secures RFID tags"

Cloning radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags permits counterfeiters to fool security systems by responding to authentication challenges with exactly the same response as genuine tags--but not if they include unclonable silicon DNA inside. Look for RFID tags to proliferate into mainstream consumer applications, such as transit passes, now that an unclonable technology is available to secure them. R.C.J.

Counterfeiters today copy radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags by "cloning" the chips inside them. But making an exact copy of Verayo's new M4H RFID tags is impossible, because they contain silicon "DNA" that uniquely identifies them, according to the company. Verayo Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) announced its unclonable chip technology two years ago but has been concentrating on other applications, such as securing military chips, field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and secure-door access cards. Applying the approach to mass-market RFID tags required a tweak to the authentication technology. All of Verayo's products are based on a physically unclonable function (PUF) cast as a circuit. PUFs use random variations in the delays of wires and gates on a chip—the chip's silicon DNA—to create a unique response when challenged during an authentication session.
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