Could RFID Alert Me to Envelope Tampering?

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Ask The ExpertsCategory: QuestionsCould RFID Alert Me to Envelope Tampering?
Manan Mehta asked 10 months ago

I have two connecting questions. Say I were to stick a paper RFID tags on the mouth of a sealed plastic envelope. Now the only way one could see the contents inside the envelope would be by tearing the envelope open, which would tear the RFID tags. So, would my RFID registration software blink or alert me immediately on my screen that a particular participant had torn or tampered with my envelope? If not, what software and hardware would it take for this to be done? What would it take to implement this?

—Manan

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Manan,

Interesting question! There are RFID tags designed to destruct when they are torn, such as NFC labels applied to the bottle caps of wine, liquor or perfume. The process of opening such a bottle would tear the antenna loose from the chip, disabling it so that it could no longer be read with an NFC or RFID reader. Another option would be to use tamper-evident tags that would respond differently once they had been damaged as a product was opened or tampered with. With such tags, a user could receive a transmission indicating a problem.

Similarly, if you applied a tamper-evident tag to a plastic envelope and then sealed it into the envelope's enclosure, the tag could be altered when the envelope was torn, and it would then transmit to readers in a modified way, indicating its status (see Tamper-Evident Tag Transmits Whether or Not Seal Breaks). The challenge would be to receive an alert immediately via an app or cloud-based software.

A passive UHF, HF or NFC RFID tag used in the manner described above would require a reader deployed within range, interrogating tags regularly. This could be done if the envelopes remained within specific zones in which readers were stationed. The alternative would be to read each tag intermittently via handheld or portal readers at specific times and locations. That would enable you to receive an alert, but only once a reader captured tag data.

Claire Swedberg
Senior Editor
RFID Journal

 

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