Cheap radio chips that are replacing the ubiquitous barcode are a threat to privacy and susceptible to computer viruses, scientists at a Dutch university said on Wednesday.
Researchers at Amsterdam's Free University created a radio frequency identity (RFID) chip infected with a virus to prove that RFID systems are vulnerable despite the extremely low memory capacity on the cheap chips.
The problem is that an infected RFID tag, which is read wirelessly when it passes through a scanning gate, can upset the database that processes the information on the chip, says the study by Melanie Rieback, Bruno Crispo and Andrew Tanenbaum.
"Everyone working on RFID technology has tacitly assumed that the mere act of scanning an RFID tag cannot modify back-end software and certainly not in a malicious way. Unfortunately, they are wrong," the scientists said in a paper.