Science and Technology
Context: After a high-level security review for the forthcoming Amarnath Yatra, the government has decided to track all pilgrims using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. The decision has been taken amid heightened security threat to the pilgrimage.
Radio Frequency Identification
- It’s a wireless tracking system that consists of tags and readers.
- Radio waves are used to communicate information/identity of objects or people to nearby readers – devices that can be hand-held or built into fixed positions like poles or buildings.
- The tags can carry encrypted information, serial numbers and short descriptions.
- There are also high-memory tags like the ones designed for use in the aviation industry.
Types of RFID
- Active RFIDs use their own power source, mostly batteries. Active tags can ping information every few seconds like beacons, or they can get activated when a reader is in the proximity.
- Passive RFIDs are activated through the reader using the electromagnetic energy it transmits. This is enough power for the tag to transmit information back to the reader. Active tags have a longer read range, around 300 ft, compared to passive tags.
How do RFIDs work?
- RFID tags use an integrated circuit and an antenna to communicate with a reader using radio waves at several different frequencies – low frequency (LF), high frequency (HF), and ultra-high frequency (UHF).
- The message sent back by the tag in form or radio waves is translated into data and analysed by the host computer system. Unlike Barcodes, RFIDs do not require direct line of sight to identify objects. They also have a bigger range.
Usage: Retail giants use them for inventory tracking. RFID chips are used as access keys in labs. They are also built into credit cards and library books. FastTags being used for toll payments across the country are also RFID tags.
Is it possible to hack RFID tags?
- Depending on data to be shared, grades of encryption can be introduced between the tag and the reader to verify credentials.
- Memory segments of the card can hold data encrypted with cryptographic keys.
- While a casual data theft is not possible, hackers can use ‘side-channel attacks’ to extract the cryptographic information.
- But that hack is not easy to pull off given that tag manufacturers continue to improve security features.
Source: Indian Express
Previous Year Questions (PYQs)
Q.1) With reference to visible light communication (VLC) technology, which of the following statements are correct? (2020)
- VLC uses electromagnetic spectrum wavelengths 375 to 780nm
- VLC is known as long-range optical wireless communication
- VLC can transmit large amounts of data faster than Bluetooth
- VLC has no electromagnetic interference
Select the correct code:
- 1, 2 and 3 only
- 1, 2 and 4 only
- 1, 3 and 4 only
- 2, 3 and 4 only
Q.2) With reference to communication technologies, what is/are the difference/differences between LTE (Long-Term Evolution) and VoLTE (Voice over Long-Term Evolution)?(2019)
- LTE is commonly marketed as 3G and VoLTE is commonly marketed as advanced 3G.
- LTE is data-only technology and VoLTE is voice-only technology.
Select the correct code:
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
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