RFID: Software integration, secure tags

By Control Engineering Staff February 8, 2007

Software and security were among recent radio frequency identification (RFID) announcements from Siemens .

Software from Siemens Automation & Drives (A&D) integrates RFID systems into business processes. Simatic RF-Manager manages read/write devices, collects and compresses RFID data for use with a merchandise information system to comply with the EPCglobal (Electronic Product Code) standard. That trade initiative is pushing RFID forward into the UHF (ultra high frequency) range, said to optimize the value-added chain, according to Siemens.

Protection of wirelessly transmitted information from product pirates can only be ensured with an elaborate and costly local infrastructure, Siemens contends. Developers at the company have come up with efficient security processes that can be implemented on tiny RFID chips. This provides a means of guaranteeing the security of these tags and of the data stored on them at considerably less cost. Mathematicians from Siemens Corporate Technology (CT) in Munich, Germany, found a method for compressing the necessary processes to run on the RFID tags. This global first, Siemens says, provides a user-friendly means of using authenticity verification on a large scale. Dr. Stephan Lechner, head of Security Research at CT, says the goal was to “provide a mobile, self-contained means of checking the authenticity of RFIDs.” Work on the project continues. Dr. Lechner and his team are customizing their method for applications within Siemens with the goal of making the cryptography available on RFID tags for external customers, the company noted in October 2006.

In related news, goods will be able to reach their destinations more quickly, thanks to a new RFID seal invented by Siemens Business Services (SBS) that speeds up the loading and unloading of trucks, airplanes, or containers. In addition, it is possible to establish who sealed the load and where or when it was opened by an authorized or unauthorized person. SBS says it has submitted two patents for the development.

Read more by searching on RFID atop www.controleng.com . Watch for the “What’s Your RFID Spin” cover story at www.controleng.com/archive , 2007 February.

—Edited by Mark T. Hoske , Control Engineering editor in chief