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Radio Frequency Identification: What Does It Mean for Auditors?
By Beth Serepca, CFP OIG, NRC, and Bob Moody, CISA, CIA, CFE, DOI ,
adio frequency identification (RFID) is a method of remotely storing and retrieving data using devices called RFID tags. RFID is a wireless technology that includes passive, semipassive and active tags: • Active RFID systems can store large amounts of information using a power source within the tags. • Passive RFID tags do not use a separate external power source. They obtain operating power from the tag reader. • Semipassive RFID uses an internal power ...view middle of the document...
In a typical RFID system, individual objects are equipped with a small, inexpensive tag that contains a transponder with a digital memory chip and unique electronic product code. The interrogator, an antenna packaged with a transceiver and decoder, emits a signal activating the tag so it can read and write data to it. When an RFID tag passes through the electromagnetic zone, it detects the reader’s activation signal. The reader decodes the data encoded in the tag’s integrated circuit (silicon chip), and the data are passed to the host computer for processing.
standard provides a platform on which products and future improvements can be built, and serves as the foundation for the continued build-out of the EPCglobal Network that combines RFID technology, the Internet and electronic product codes to provide cost-efficient and accurate information throughout supply chains. Supply chain benefits dependent on Gen 2 have global interoperability, international vendor support, multiple read and write capabilities that could potentially change the economic climate by delivering a quicker return on investment, and increased data communication speeds at more than double the tags available today. The read rate for Gen 2 tags in the US under a simulated environment is 1,500 per second vs. approximately 100 tags per second for the tags available today. However, that rate drops to between 500 and 600 tags per second in Europe because US regulations allow for wider frequency bandwidth. A number of companies are developing product releases for 2005 now that the specifications have been approved.1
Use of RFID can be in three frequency ranges: • Low-frequency RFID tags are commonly used for animal identification, beer keg tracking, and automobile key-andlock antitheft systems. For example, chips are embedded in pets so they may be returned to their owners if lost. • High-frequency RFID tags are used in library book or bookstore tracking, pallet tracking, building access control, airline baggage tracking and apparel item tracking. Highfrequency tags are also widely used in identification badges, replacing earlier magnetic stripe cards. These badges need only be held within a certain distance of the reader to authenticate the holder. • Ultra-high frequency RFID tags are commonly used commercially in pallet and container tracking, and truck and trailer tracking in shipping yards. Microwave RFID tags are used for long-range access control of vehicles, such as General Motors’ OnStar system. Some toll systems, such as, in the US, California’s FasTrak and Illinois’s I-Pass system, use RFID tags for electronic toll collection. The tags are read as vehicles pass, and the information is used to debit the toll from a prepaid account. The system helps the flow of traffic through toll plazas. RFID systems can be used almost anywhere—from clothing tags to missiles to pet tags to food—that a unique identification system is needed. The tag can carry...