Radio Frequency Identification Systems Security Challenges in Supply Chain Management

Radio Frequency Identification Systems Security Challenges in Supply Chain Management

Kamalendu Pal (City, University of London, UK)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7811-6.ch010
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The radio frequency idtentification (RFID) is a wireless technology that enable automatic identification and extraction of stored information from any tagged object within a supply chain environment. A simple RFID system uses radio waves to collect and transfer data from a tag attached to an object linked to an RFID reader for identifying, tracking, and data capturing. However, RFID-based systems have numerous security- and privacy-related threats for the deployment of such technology in supply chain automation purpose. This chapter explains the technical fundamentals of RFID systems and its security threats. It also classifies the existing security and privacy threats into those which target the RFID components such as the tag, the communication channel, and the overall system threats. Finally, the chapter discusses the open research challenges that need further investigation, especially with the rapid introduction of diverse RFID applications in supply chain management (SCM).
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All business today understands the value and importance of building an effective supply chain, as part of organizational growth and profitability (Pal, 2019). A supply chain is a network of business facilities and distribution options that performs key functions: raw material procurement, transformation of these materials into intermediate and finished products, and distribution of these finished products to warehouses; and finally, from warehouses to retail customers (Pal, 2017). Supply chain management (SCM) uses various approaches to integrate suppliers, manufacturers, distributors in performing their functions, and to provide the appropriate strategy to deliver products and services to customers in the right quantities, to the right locations and the right time to meet the required service level with optimal cost. Through collaboration and information sharing SCM system can produce efficient value-added services to its customers and create competitive advantage in the market place. An integrated diagrammatic representation of market specific supply and demand information, warehousing and distribution details along a supply chain, is shown in Figure 1.

Managing a supply chain involves numerous business decisions about the flow of information, product, funds, and their coordination. SCM has been instrumental in connecting and smoothing business activities as well as forming various kinds of business relationships, for example - customer relationship management (CRM), supplier relationship management (SRM), among supply chain stakeholders. In this way, SCM is a complex coordination mechanism to manage the total flow of a distribution channel from supplier level to production, distribution and then ultimately to the end customer. The aim is to achieve goals related to total system performance rather than optimization of a single phase in a logistics chain. The objective of SCM is to enhance productivity by reducing total inventory level and cycle time for orders. It is important for supply chain business-partners to create a network that is agile and able to respond rapidly to unpredictable changes in demand. To achieve these objectives close cooperation among business partners is essential.

Figure 1.

A diagrammatic representation of supply chain business processes


SCM system utilizes modern Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to acquire, interpret, retain, and distribute information. RFID –based technological solution provides a major advantage to SCM. Implementing supply chain collaboration along with RFID technology can enable retailer to achieve the best level of business performance. Retailers can expect extensive inventory and labour-cost savings. In fact, the retail industry (with such major retailers like Walmart and TESCO in the USA, and United Kingdom’s Mark & Spencer and Germany’s METRO Group) is the initial driver of RFID technology adoption in business operation.

In recent decades, RFID technology has been used in many supply chain coordination activities: manufacturing, transportation and logistics operations. Associated with the integration of RFID technology in business and in the day-to-day life of consumers are various security and privacy concerns. The potential to reduce purchase anonymity, embedded tags in products that can reveal sensitive information, violation of location privacy with no-contact, non-line-of-sight through non-conducting material (e.g. cardboard or paper), fast read rate at up to a few meters and invisible identification which can be done indiscriminately has raised privacy concerns.

Key Terms in this Chapter

UWB: Ultra-wide band (UWB) is a weak communication signal and it is broadcast over a very wide band of frequencies (e.g. 3.1 – 10.6 GHz).

Semi-Passive Tag: A tag with no on-board power source that is unable to initiate communications with a reader.

UPC: Universal product code (UPC) is a one-dimensional, optical barcode found on many consumer products.

Skimming: An attack where an adversary wirelessly reads data from a RFID tag that enables forgery or cloning.

Passive Tag: A tag with no on-board power source that harvests its energy from a reader-provided RF signal.

Linear Barcode: A one-dimensional, optical bar code used for auto-ID.

Tag: An RFID transponder, typically consisting of an RF coupling element and a microchip that carries identifying data. Tag functionality may range from simple identification to being able to form ad hoc networks.

RF: Radio frequency.

EAS: Electronic article surveillance. A radio frequency device that announces its presence but contains no unique identifying data. EAS tags are frequently attached to books or compact discs.

EPC: Electronic product code. A low-cost RFID tag designed for consumer products as a replacement for the UPC (Universal Product Code).

UHF: Ultra-high frequency, 868-928 MHz.

LF: Low frequency; 120-140 KHz.

Auto-ID: Automatic identification (Auto-ID) systems automatically identify physical objects through optical, electromagnetic, or chemical means.

Active Tag: A tag with its own battery that can initiate communications.

Reader: An RFID transceiver, providing real and possible write access to RFID tags.

Supply Chain Management: A supply chain consists of a network of key business processes and facilities, involving end users and suppliers that provide products, services and information. In this chain management, improving the efficiency of the overall chain is an influential factor; and it needs at least four important strategic issues to be considered: supply chain network design, capacity planning, risk assessment and management, and performances monitoring and measurement. The coordination of these huge business processes and their performance improvement are the main objectives of a supply chain management system.

RFID: Radio frequency identification. Describes a broad spectrum of devices and technologies and is used to refer both to individual tags and overall systems.

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