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Article | October 31, 2005
Product focus: Tamper-evident RFID tags
Smart&Secure technology fights product counterfeiting, diversion, and tampering in the supply chain at a 10% premium to typical RFID tags.
Smart&Secure is a proprietary tamper-evident RFID technology from Mikoh Corp. to maintain product security in the supply chain. It is not a visual feature but is linked to the RFID tag's functionality. In its simplest format it disables a RFID tag if it is tampered with or removed. It is appropriate to fight counterfeiting product substitution theft and tampering. It can also be used as a tamper-evident seal.
Smart&Secure works seamlessly and transparently with existing RFID technology and infrastructure such as reader-antennas according to Mikoh chief technology officer Peter Atherton. He notes that RFID deployments can be retrofit to use Smart&Secure.
Atherton claims that a conventional RFID tag can be read as normal even if the product itself is not present or if it has been switched to a different product.
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"The inference is that the tag's presence implies the presence of the product the tag was originally applied to and that's not necessarily true" Atherton states.
Because RFID permits less human intervention than a bar code Atherton believes that it permits more opportunities for fraud within the supply chain. For one thing such tampering may not be detected until the last link in the supply chain.
"While you want all the automation benefits of RFID it's very important to know that the RFID reader is detecting a tag still attached to the correct item" Atherton says. "This can protect against substituted or gray market products."
Smart&Secure is designed to withstand the most sophisticated tamperer: "It protects against all sorts of attacks on the tag—temperature chemical or mechanical" Atherton explains.
The tag is manufactured to include the added layers of the Smart&Secure technology that includes conductive inks. Smart&Secure typically adds about 10% to the cost of the tags which are then supplied in roll or sheet form Atherton says.
The technology has been deployed by government agencies for applications that include use on government vehicles near borders.
Focus on pharma
Along with companies growing in use and familiarity with RFID Atherton says that security issues are much more prominent today. He also points to the fact that the FDA strongly recommends the use of RFID in the pharmaceutical supply chain an area Mikoh is focusing on.
"It's easy to see Smart&Secure's use for drugs due to the ramifications of counterfeit products" Atherton says "and in applications to prevent commercial loss."
Mikoh is currently working with major pharmaceutical packaging and distribution companies interested in Smart&Secure Atherton discloses.
Mikoh contracts with RFID tag suppliers to manufacture the tags but is now taking a new tack. In October Mikoh announced a licensing agreement with Serigraph the first of what it expects will be more such agreements.
Mikoh is developing a reusable plastic container (RPC) designed to be sealed with a Smart&Secure tag. Thus the entire bin contents for example pharmaceuticals can be protected throughout the supply chain with a single one-way tag that's easily removed and the bin cleaned and readied for the next trip.
"RFID tampering isn't inevitable but it's a real risk" Atherton says. "Companies that deploy RFID come to realize that there are real or potential issues with tag security."
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