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RFID devices with crypto engine prevent counterfeiting

Posted: 07 Dec 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:RFID? counterfeiting? embedded cryptographic engine?

Atmel Corp. has unveiled the CryptoRF, touted to be the first 13.56MHz RFID devices with 64bit embedded cryptographic engine, mutual authentication capability and up to 16 individually configurable zones.

These devices prevent product counterfeiting; a problem assessed at over $600 billion in seized fakes in 2007. One of the most reliable ways to protect against counterfeiters is to lock product authenticity in hardware. Atmel's CryptoRF devices create unique "signatures" based on information that is not transmitted or allowed to be accessed in any way.

CryptoRF product labels and tags are virtually impossible to copy. The devices are designed for applications that are prone to counterfeiting such as high value consumer items and software; require a permanent record of the chain of ownership such as pharmaceutical tracking; or represent cash transactions like bus passes, loyalty or campus cards.

Mutual authentication
While conventional RFID tags can be copied using a low-cost RFID tag reader, enabling the creation of phony tags for counterfeit products, the CryptoRF devices have a 64bit embedded hardware cryptographic engine; with 64Kbit keys that are completely inaccessible.

CryptoRF supports a mutual authentication protocol to establish a trusted link between itself and a host reader. The CryptoRF device and the host reader demonstrate knowledge of respective non-readable secrets stored within them without actually transmitting the secrets. A unique cryptogram is generated for each transaction, so a cryptogram intercepted during a transaction cannot be used to effect a second transaction. The likelihood of a "fake" device creating the appropriate cryptogram is about one in a quintillion. Each CryptoRF device has its own set of authentication keys therefore every device is unique. Fuse bits are blown to permanently lock the security information within the device.

In addition, a complete history of a product's ownership, distribution and disposition can be contained on a single device. CryptoRF devices are available with densities from 1Kbit to 64Kbit of user memory to accommodate a wide range of information storage. The user memory itself may be divided into as many as 16 separate zones, each of which can be customized to allow different levels of read and write access, including read and write, read-only, one-time-programmable or requires authentication.

Atmel's CryptoRF devices integrate a 13.56MHz RF interface with a range up to 10cm. The company alsi offers a range of CryptoRF reference designs, libraries, demonstration kits and application software that simplifies the implementation of CryptoRF into existing products.

CryptoRF devices are available. Pricing starts at 75 cents on 25,000-unit quantities.

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