Australian researchers have confirmed that RFID tags could be used to induce denial-of-service attacks. A study from Edith Cowan University has shown how attackers could attack by using cheap store-bought radio transmitters, despite vendors' insistence that the possibility of an attack was a remote one.
Widely-used Generation One tags operate in the 902-938 MHz range. Researchers from the university say that a denial of service attack on the tags will cause them to enter an error state, allowing someone to input incorrect prices or alter location and destination parameters.
Ken Wild, senior research support engineer at the School of Computer and Information Science at Edith Cowan University in the state of Western Australia, said information protocols the tags use have been simplified greatly and has left them with a "bit of a hole". He explained that because the tags had been designed to run on low power with an extended frequency range, there was little room left for any security.
"The tag receives what it considers an intelligent signal in the right kind of modulation, attempts to decode and then considers the signal as an uncorrectable error. The tags then reset themselves to an error state, the same status as the initial power-up state," Wild said.
"Generation 2 tags have got a much more sophisticated security, but they are still vulnerable at the air interface and you can still listen in.
Last month, students from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands wrote a virus to fit on an RFID tag, but vendors have since dismissed the possibility of RFID viruses saying the amount of memory in the tags is too small.