How is effective anti-counterfeiting possible?
It seems like virtually any technology can be copied these days, and a secret password is only as good as your organization’s ability to keep a secret. This article details the concept of JADAK’s RFID technology and its role in anti-counterfeiting measures.
Counterfeiting is not an easy problem to solve, and though we often focus on the technology first, there are other aspects of the problem that need to be considered as well.
As the BRIDGE group explains (Problem-Analysis Report on Counterfeiting and Illicit Trade, 2007, p. 17), there are four primary methods to fight counterfeits:
- Ensure legal consequences exist to discourage counterfeiting
- Confirm counterfeit incidents are pursued and that private groups cooperate with authority
- Teach consumers to understand the dangers of counterfeit goods and how to recognize them
- Implement various forms of technology to prevent counterfeits
If we focus on medical devices or pharmaceuticals in the developed world, we can assume that the legal consequences for counterfeiting exist, that if there were an issue there would be an investigation and that the authorities would assist, and that consumers understand the dangers of counterfeits. However, without preventative measures, consumers may not recognize counterfeits, and without technological barriers, counterfeits are more difficult to detect and find.
JADAK’s RFID Solution
In an article in Scientia Pharmaceutica, Bansal et al. (Anti-Counterfeit Technologies: A Pharmaceutical Industry Perspective, 2012) stated that the ideal anti-counterfeiting technology should include:
- a high level of security (non-clone-able)
- high product application and authentication speed
- proven standards
- be difficult to remove and reapply
- be easy to check
- have automatic authentication
- be useable by consumers
- and must be legally compliant by the industries
The concept behind JADAK’s technology and RFID solutions is to cover as many of these anti-counterfeiting ideals as possible in a cost effective manner.
To illustrate, let’s consider an example in which a fictional company, VeriAnalyze, manufactures a clinical analyzer which uses proprietary reagents to perform a new type of blood analysis. In order to combat counterfeiting and protect their reagent revenue stream, VeriAnalyze can add an RFID tag to each reagent and a reader inside of each clinical analysis machine. However, the implementation of such a system introduces opportunities for Verianalyze to create additional security features.
VeriAnalyze’s RFID implementation is comprised of three parts: reagent tagging, RFID reader installation, and end customer interaction. The following explains the steps involved in the JADAK RFID system and how each step addresses the anti-counterfeiting points stated above.
VeriAnalyze’s RFID Implmentation
On the VeriAnalyze reagent manufacturing floor:
- Employees use an RFID printer with a JADAK RFID module to encode a tamper-proof RFID tag with data about manufacturing location and date, expiration date, and number of permitted uses. The tag data is protected via AES encryption and employs mutual authentication techniques (a double challenge-response scheme that identifies the tag and reader type).
- This RFID tag is difficult to remove and re-apply, has a high level of security, and uses proven, industry accepted security standards, addressing a number of the ideal anti-counterfeiting requirements.
- On the outside of the RFID tag, a barcode is printed with a unique serial number that corresponds with the RFID tag’s unique identifier, to enable additional tracking capabilities.
- The outside of the RFID tag is also printed with a warning that reads “Do Not Remove. Analyzer Will Not Recognize Reagent Without This Label”. (Alternatively, the tag could be molded into the plastic of the reagent container)
- The human readable label is easy to check for by the end user.
- The RFID tag is then applied to the reagent, and the reagents are shipped to the customer.
- Through automation, tags can be quickly and easily applied to each reagent bottle
On the VeriAnalyze clinical analyzer manufacturing floor:
- JADAK RFID readers, which employ the secure tag features and mutual authentication mentioned above, are installed within the analyzer in the locations that the reagents will be placed in the system.
- The RFID reader addresses the same anti-counterfeiting concerns as the RFID tag
- Custom firmware for VeriAnalyze, which includes a hardcoded and encrypted reader and tag password, is written to the JADAK RFID reader.
- Each JADAK RFID reader is assigned a unique code so that the RFID reader will only communicate with the specific VeriAnalyze machine to which it is assigned.
At the customer’s facility using the VeriAnalyze Clinical System:
- When a technician installs the reagent, they place the bottle into the system.
- The RFID tag on the bottle is automatically read and authenticated by the JADAK RFID reader, and verified to be authentic and unexpired.
- This automatic authentication is completed with no additional work on behalf of the technician, making it easy to use.
- When the reagent bottle is empty, the reader executes a “kill tag” command that prevents the reagent bottle from simply being re-filled and re-used.
- Additional functions using the RFID system could be implemented, such as storage of reagent calibrations data on the tag, or storage of the remaining reagent level in the container.
VeriAnalyze’s solution is a great example of JADAK’s technology. By using various anti-counterfeiting methods such as tamper evident RFID tags, human readable information, as well as sophisticated RFID encryption techniques, we can create a system that maximizes the ability to prevent counterfeits.
Bansal, D., Malla, S., Gudala, K., & Tiwari, P. (2013). Anti-Counterfeit Technologies: A Pharmaceutical Industry Perspective. Scientia Pharmaceutica, 81(1), 1–13. http://doi.org/10.3797/scipharm.1202-03
ETH Zurich, SAP Research. (2007). Problem-Analysis Report on Counterfeiting and Illicit Trade. BRIDGE.