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Study Says Chips in RFID Tags Are Vulnerable to Viruses

March 21, 2006

NEW YORK – In a surprising demonstration, a group of European computer researchers have proven that it is possible to insert a software virus into radio frequency identification tags, which are part of a microchip-based tracking technology in commercial and security applications, according to the New York Times. The tracking systems are utilized to improve accuracy and lower the cost of tracking goods. Because of the tiny amount of memory on the chips, most computer security experts had previously discounted the possibility of using such tags, known as RFID chips. Some even use these chips to track pets. The research paper, titled “Is Your Cat Infected With a Computer Virus?,” is affiliated with Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam’s computer science department. The paper also describes how viruses could undermine security systems. While publishing this information is risky, according to the report, the researchers also released a set of steps to help protect RFID chips from such attacks. The researchers’ paper on RFID systems, as well as related materials, are accessible at
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