Document Type : Original Research Paper


Department of Content Transfer Technology, Cyberspace Research Institute, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran.


Background and Objectives: Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) systems use radio frequency waves to exchange information between a legitimate sender and a receiver. One of the important features of RFID systems is to find and track a specific tag among a large number of tags. Numerous works have been done about authentication and ownership protocols, but the number of researches done in the tag searching area is much less. Although security is a paramount factor in search protocols, but these days designers are looking for a secure search protocol that is also low cost. One way to have a low cost search protocol is that to be compatible with EPC C1G2 standard, which is an electronic product code class 1 generation 2 that works in the 860-960 MHz frequency range.
Methods: Most recently, Sundaresan et al. have proposed an RFID tag search protocol based on quadratic residues and 128 bit pseudo random number generators and XOR operation that can be easily implemented on passive tags and is compatible with EPC C1G2 standard. We show that this protocol is not immune against tag tracing, and try to improve the protocol in a way that traceability attack will not be applicable and the protocol stays low cost and EPC compatible.
Results: Since the problem in Sundaresan et al.'s search protocol is due to the tag not being able to recognize the used queries from the new ones, we improved the protocol using a counter within the queries, so the tag will realize that the query is used or not. Then we analyze the security of the improved protocol and prove its formal and informal security against known attacks.
Conclusion: In this paper, we firstly analyze the security of Sundaresan et al.'s search protocol and show that the search protocol is vulnerable to traceability attack with two different scenarios. Then we propose an improved search protocol that is secure against tracing the tags. Following that, we analyze the security of the improved search protocol.

©2021 The author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, as long as the original authors and source are cited. No permission is required from the authors or the publishers.


Main Subjects

[1] S. Lahiri, RFID sourcebook, IBM press, 2005.

[2] V. Chawla, D.S. Ha, “An overview of passive RFID," IEEE Commun. Mag., 45(9): 11–17, 2007.

[3] C.C. Tan, B. Sheng, Q. Li, “Secure and serverless RFID authentication and search protocols,” IEEE Trans. Wireless Commun., 7(4): 1400–1407, 2008.

[4] T.Y. Won, J.Y. Chun, D.H. Lee, “Strong authentication protocol for secure RFID tag search without help of central database,” in Proc. International Conference on Embedded and Ubiquitous Computing, 2: 153-158, 2008.

[5] L. Chun, J. Hwang, D. Lee, “RFID tag search protocol preserving privacy of mobile reader holders,” IEICE Electron. Express, 8(2): 50–56, 2011.

[6] Z. Kim, J. Kim, K. Kim, I. Choi, T. Shon, “Untraceable and serverless RFID authentication and search protocols,” in Proc. Ninth IEEE International Symposium on Parallel and Distributed Processing with Applications Workshops,: 278–283, 2011.

[7] S. Sundaresan, R. Doss, W. Zhou, “A secure search protocol based on Quadratic Residues for EPC Class-1 Gen-2 UHF RFID tags,” in Proc. 23rd International Symposium on Personal Indoor and Mobile Radio Communications,:30–35, 2012.

[8] S. Sundaresan, R. Doss, S. Piramuthu, W. Zhou, “Secure tag search in RFID systems using mobile readers,” IEEE Trans. Dependable Secure Comput., 12(2): 230–242, 2015.

[9] S. Sundaresan, R. Doss, S. Piramuthu, W. Zhou, “A secure search protocol for low cost passive RFID tags,” Computer Networks, 122: 70–82, 2017.

[10] M. Safkhani, P. Peris-Lopez, N. Bagheri, M. Naderi, J. C. Hernandez-Castro, “On the security of Tan et al. serverless RFID authentication and search protocols,” in Proc. International Workshop on Radio Frequency Identification: Security and Privacy Issues, 7739: 1–19, 2012.

[11] L.C. Lin, S.C. Tsaur, S.-C, K.P. Chang, “Lightweight and serverless RFID authentication and search protocol,” in Proc. Second Int. Conf. on Computer and Electrical Engineerin, 2: 95–99, 2009.

[12] C. Mtita, M. Laurent, J. Delort, “Efficient serverless radiofrequency identification mutual authentication and secure tag search protocols with untrusted readers,” IET Inf. Secur., 10(5): 262–271, 2016.

[13] S.I. Ahamed, F. Rahman, E. Hoque, F. Kawsar, T. Nakajima, “S3PR: secure serverless search protocols for RFID,” in Proc. 2008 International Conference on Information Security and Assurance (isa 2008): 187–192, 2008.

[14] Y. Zuo, “Secure and private search protocols for RFID systems,” Inform. Syst. Front., 12(5): 507–519, 2009.

[15] E.-J. Yoon, “Cryptanalysis of an RFID tag search protocol preserving privacy of mobile reader,” in Proc. International Federation for Information Processing,: 575–580, 2012.

[16] L. Kulseng, Z. Yu, Y. Wei, Y. Guan, “Lightweight secure search protocols for lowcost RFID systems,” in Proc. 2009 29th IEEE International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems,: 40–48, 2009.

[17] A. Falahati, H. Azizi, R.M. Edwards. “RFID light weight server-less search protocol based on nlfsrs,” in Proc. 8th International Symposium on Telecommunications (IST),: 741-745, 2016.

[18] C. Lv, H. Li, M. Jianfeng, B. Niu, “Vulnerability analysis of lightweight secure search protocols for low-cost RFID systems,” Int. J. Radio Freq. Identif. Technol. Appl., 4(1): 3–12, 2012.

[19] M. Eslamnezhad Namin, M. Hosseinzadeh, N. Bagheri, A. Khademzadeh, “RSPAE: RFID search protocol based on authenticated encryption,’’ J. Electr. Comput. Eng. Innovations, 6(2): 179-192, 2018.

[20] A. Khattab, Z. Jeddi, E. Amini, E., M. Bayoumi, RFID security: a lightweight paradigm, Springer, 2016.

[21] B. Gesuale, P. Agarwal, RFID: READ MY CHIPS!. Piper Jaffray Equity Research Report, 2004.

[22] H. Jannati, B. Bahrak, “Security analysis of an RFID tag search protocol,” Inf. Process. Lett., 116(10): 618–622, 2016.

[23] M. Eslamnezhad Namin, M. Hosseinzadeh, N. Bagheri, A. Khademzadeh, “A secure search protocol for lightweight and low-cost RFID systems,” Telecommunication Systems, 67(4): 539–552, 2018.

[24] L. Gong, R. Needham, R. Yahalom, “Reasoning about Belief in Cryptographic Protocols,” in Proc. 1990 IEEE Computer Society Symposium on Research in Security and Privacy: 234–248, 1990.


Journal of Electrical and Computer Engineering Innovations (JECEI) welcomes letters to the editor for the post-publication discussions and corrections which allows debate post publication on its site, through the Letters to Editor. Letters pertaining to manuscript published in JECEI should be sent to the editorial office of JECEI within three months of either online publication or before printed publication, except for critiques of original research. Following points are to be considering before sending the letters (comments) to the editor.

[1] Letters that include statements of statistics, facts, research, or theories should include appropriate references, although more than three are discouraged.

[2] Letters that are personal attacks on an author rather than thoughtful criticism of the author’s ideas will not be considered for publication.

[3] Letters can be no more than 300 words in length.

[4] Letter writers should include a statement at the beginning of the letter stating that it is being submitted either for publication or not.

[5] Anonymous letters will not be considered.

[6] Letter writers must include their city and state of residence or work.

[7] Letters will be edited for clarity and length.