NXP explains how NFC and RFID tags can be used to improve the security of blockchain-based supply chain systems

Graphic with Blockchain overlaid
IMPROVED SECURITY: NXP’s Mahdi Mekic says the typical blockchain implementation could do more to prevent inaccurate or fraudulent data from entering the ledger using NFC and RFID tags

PARTNER NEWS: “By adding transparency, security, and traceability, blockchain can make supply chains faster and more efficient, especially when originality and provenance are key concerns,” NXP explains in a new blog post. “At the same time, though, we see a way to improve the way blockchain is used in many of today’s implementations.”

“Blockchain is, at its core, a new kind of database and, like any database, is only as trustworthy as the data that is entered into it,” NXP’s Mahdi Mekic explains in the post.

“While blockchain uses cryptography to safeguard data and can be expected to protect information effectively once it’s in the ledger, the typical blockchain implementation could do more when it comes to preventing inaccurate or fraudulent data from entering the ledger.

“Most implementations use a vetting process to clear contributors before they enter data into the blockchains. But the sources for blockchain data are often based on data carriers, such as QR codes, which can be easy to fake or duplicate.

“What’s more, data capture is generally based on a manual process or a process with low levels of automation, and this is both inefficient and prone to errors.

“The vetting performed on blockchain contributors is often not very thorough and can be faked without much effort. Also, the sources for blockchain data are often based on manual entry or low levels of automation, which can lead to errors while capturing data or entering information.

“It’s our view that, to make the setup work effectively in the supply chain, blockchain implementations need to include mechanisms that better protect information and automate data handling.”

“Our RFID/NFC portfolio provides item-level tagging, so each item tracked in the blockchain has its own unique identity and can create its own history,” Mekic explains.

“Item-level data can be configured to flow into the blockchain ledger automatically, with more transactions per second, more enrolments per day, and more units contributing information at once — making manual entry both outmoded and unnecessary.

“High-level security mechanisms, embedded in tags such as those based on our DNA family of RAIN/NFC ICs, protect data with cryptographic authentication so only trusted information is stored in the blockchain.

“The tags themselves use very little power and require only minimal network bandwidth for transactions, yet provide ample memory to store relevant data, and are easy to configure for cloud and blockchain connectivity.

“Also, because NFC reader technology is now available in every major brand of smartphone, consumers can check provenance and verify authenticity by simply tapping the NFC tag placed on a label or the product itself.”

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