EMP Tag Destruction Attacks

Popularity:

6

Simplicity:

2

Impact:

3

Risk Rating:

4

Attackers can physically destroy tags remotely by overloading the antenna and RF front-end built into the tag. This method has been proven to work with magnetic coupling RFID systems in the LF and RF bands, including ePassports. A short electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is sufficient to destroy a capacitor; a zener diode, named after the Zener voltage, which is a type of diode that permits current to flow in both forward and reverse directions; or other function in the tag's input circuit. The tag is permanently damaged and usually cannot be recovered or repaired.

This attack depends on inducing a electromagnetic field of sufficient strength into the input antenna. This means either the attackers are close (within a couple of inches of the antenna) or they are using enormous transmitters. The duration of the actual pulse can only be a fraction of a second. Thus, localizing such RFID-zapping equipment using traditional triangulation techniques can be very hard.

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