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January 2007

Mixed Signals

RFID gives businesses--and bad guys--an easy way to track and change information. As one of the fathers of the RFID industry, Kevin Ashton never seems to be far from controversy. Three years ago, he helped introduce the Electronic Product Code (EPC), an RFID specification, to the suppliers of Wal-Mart and Best Buy, and the U.S. Department of Defense, which manages the largest supply chain on the planet. Now, as security experts demonstrate with alarming regularity how easy it is to hack RFID-enabled credit cards and e-passports, Ashton is calling for a new standard from EPCglobal, the EPC standards body, to secure RFID tags on shipping containers, palettes and individual store items. The new standard, EPC Generation 3, would add the security features suppliers and retailers need to prevent attacks from rogue RFID reader devices, which, along with RFID tags, will become cheap and ubiquitous in the coming years, says Ashton, vice president of marketing at the RFID reader maker ThingMagic. He's also co-founder of the MIT-based ...

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