RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology is widely used in logistics, production, access control systems, article surveillance and transportation.
The advantages of this technology are also used for passports, credit and debit cards.
The RFID chip, which is invisibly embedded, in conjunction with an RFID reader (payment terminal) allows for a quick identification and verification as well as for simple payment over a specific distance, without establishing physical contact.
RFID transponders possess an antenna, an analog circuit (transceiver) and a digital circuit (chip) with a storage region. It stores personal and biometrical data, for example.
RFID transponders as they are used in electronic passports, credit cards, debit cards or access control cards are passive.
Only an RFID reader/writer supplies the RFID transponder with energy for data transmission. It sends a radio signal which is received by the RFID tag. As a result, the RFID transponder is activated.
Using radio-frequency electromagnetic waves, an RFID reader reads the data and information stored on the RFID chip without establishing physical contact within split seconds.
Depending on the antenna, RFID readers achieve a range of up to several meters.
RFID frequency ranges/bands
- Low frequency range (125 kHz; LF)
- High frequency range (13.56 MHz; HF)
- Ultra high frequency range (868 MHz; UHF)
RFID Data Communication: Radio Signals
An RFID reader generates a high frequency electromagnetic alternating field, which it transmits via its antenna, and to which the RFID transponder (passive RFID tag) is exposed.
The RFID transponder absorbs the energy transmitted by the RFID reader.
Only with the aid of this energy, the RFID tag communicates with the RFID reader and a communication process, i.e. a process of data transmission, starts.
The chip activated that way (integrated circuit) in the RFID transponder receives the signals sent by the RFID reader and responds automatically. Its answer is received by the RFID reader (interrogator).
In the process, the RFID tag transmits its serial number and the data stored on it, which are interrogated by the RFID reader. In this way, the data is transmitted to the RFID reader or the (payment) terminal via an air interface, without establishing physical contact.
The distance between the RFID transponder and the RFID reader is referred to as reading range. It is codetermined by the frequency ranges/bands, the type of RFID tag and environmental conditions.
Security of RFID Systems
The security of RFID systems is dependent upon the cryptographic security mechanisms used, such as procedures for authentication, encryption, pseudonymization, integrity protection and access protection.