Zapping RFID

what is RFID

A technology spreading fast, with lots of money behind it. It is an identification technology. Our view of RFID is critical. We have found no good reason for RFID, it is a hegemonic technology created by states for control. While there are interesting projects for social purposes, 99% of the purposes are 'evil'.

Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID)

Two tags: Passive and Active

Passive, get there power from the reader. Active have internal power (always?) Passive tags are very cheap. 1 penny US if you buy 1000. The future of production is the creation of tags by printing them with ink.

There is a reader, it emits an EMF (electro-magnetic field). If the chip is near the reader, it gets energy and it reflects the energy back to the reader. It answers with its unique number, and other possible information. How far it can be read from depends on a number of factors, the size of the antenna is one, with a big reader a passive tag can be read from 3 to 5 meters away. One company is developing very small tags the size of a grain of sand to put in money, which can only be read at very close distance (touching). Active tags with their own power can be read from 100 meters away, these are used for example in car toll systems.

Readers can be all sorts of sizes and can be well hidden, it just needs a power supply. You will not know if your tag is being read. The tags themselves can be as small as a grain of sand or as big as a golfball. The passive tags are typically flat and flexible. So it is very difficult to detect that something you carry has an RFID. Example there are textile tags, that can be put in your t-shirt that can go through the wash, designer clothes companies are putting these in to watch copying.


RFID has not be standarized in the past (although there is a new standard now), but there are a few main frequencies which are used:

There are also a selection of other frequencies used by different companies. So there is no one reader you can buy that will read all the tags.

Actual large scale usage of RFID

Actors pushing hard for RFID

Notable usage of RFID

Things to come

The readers are almost always connected to a network and then a database. You then get a database of movement of objects.

Companies and Organisations pushing for implementation

A company in Germany promised that supermarket tags that were promised to be destroyed on leaving the store weren't. A testbed for supermarket 2.0.

Some interesting projects

There has been a discussion about Visas carrying RFID tags, but someone in the Administration noticed that everyone carrying a unique numbered tag could have issues (eg for people travelling in the middle east). So they have waited, and have let other countries go first.

Lukas Grunwald demostrated at a conference that he can clone the chip on a passport. There is lots of information on the web about this if you search, Wired Magazine had an early interview.,71521-0.html With this it may be possible to pass through border with a fake identity.

Simple Devices for RFID

Protecting yourself

practical RFID zapping

Invented by 3 IT students in Berlin, presented at CCC.

Single use camera with a flash. Break out everything but the flash and the flash capacitor out of the camera, and put in some copper wire that shall build an electronic magnetic field.

The interest of the disposable cameras is that it has a capacitor in, which builds up a charge. USing the capacitor, a strong electromagnetic field is built up and bursts the rfid tag.

A destroyed chip by this method looks like a normal chip, and even if you detect that it doesn't work you can't tell how it was destroyed or if it ever worked before.

This was presented on radio show (!) in Hamburg. A workshop by radio to build the zapper at home. They described every small bit by word, working with people who had never held a soldering iron before.

By the end of the process if you are careful the zapper looks just like the disposable camera. However, they cause problems getting through airport security, and there are issues with pacemakers.

(Q: do magnets destroy RFID tags? A: unknown.)

RFID zapping demonstration

Roll the presentation.... Using M$ Windows, as the reader software LibRFID is still under development for Linux

OmniKey CardMan 5121 Contact-Less Demo Application Programmer. Provided by the manufacturer of one of the readers. (Q: do you have to pay for the software? A: No, but the software isn't very good )

The companies send out "free samples" (!) of RFID chips for you to test.

Discussion: How do they maintain unique numbers, if the manufactures do not maintain a name space? If so there would may be a database of namespaces for each company. However, there has been little standardisation previously. There is also a tag for the "company" on the tag. There are already numbering authorities for the barcode system, there is (probably?) an extension system for RFID.

building one yourself

later tonight at 8pm in H17, if you can bring a camera (with flash)

STAMP: MeetingNotes/ZappingRfid (dernière édition le 2008-12-19 18:59:45 par anonyme)