What form of authentication do most transit operators use?
Most transit operators do not use any form of authentication. Instead, they issue tickets or cards with an embedded high-frequency (HF) RFID transponder that stores a unique serial number. The system knows which numbers are legitimate, so only tickets with the correct serial numbers will work. Numbers are removed from circulation to prevent cloned tickets from being used (a cloned ticket is one that has a serial number read from another tag written to it).
Cloning could become a problem as RFID ticketing becomes more common, so technology providers have begun to address the issue. NXP Semiconductors, for example, introduced its NTAG21x family of Near Field Communication (NFC) chips that have authentication signatures. This allows transit operators to authenticate tags before granting access to trains or buses (see NXP Releases New NFC Tag Chips for New Applications).
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
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