TOPIC 1:
SECURITY TECHNOLOGIES OVERVIEW

Two papers on this topic were presented, one by Richard Jotcham, Axess Technologies Ltd., and the other by Michael Kolodny, U.S. Army Research Laboratory.

SECURITY TECHNOLOGIES OVERVIEW AND APPLICATIONS

Richard Jotcham outlined the various kinds of security tags that are currently used in the commercial world and commented on each. Tags may be added directly to products or be associated with their packaging. The areas discussed were these:

  • Biometric tags

  • Covert tags

  • Forensic level tags

  • Product characteristic tags

  • Coding tags

  • Electronic tags

Biometric Tags

Biometric identification systems include DNA and fingerprint analysis, iris, hand, and facial recognition, retinal scanning, signature authentication, and speech recognition. All are widely used, although facial recognition technology currently has a high rate of false positives.

Covert Tags

Examples of covert tags are color-coded plastic particles 20–30 μm on a side distributed throughout a product and gem stones with 10 μm colored spheres inserted between the crystal grains. Another example given was tagging a car by spraying tiny particles containing the vehicle identification number (VIN) all over the underside, to help identify parts that might be later removed and sold by thieves. Many covert tags are read spectroscopically using visible, ultraviolet, or infrared light. For example, documents can be tagged with ultraviolet fluorescent compounds and identified by analyzing the time-resolved fluorescence decay.



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Summary of the Sensing and Positioning Technology Workshop of the Committee on Nanotechnology for the Intelligence Community: Interim Report TOPIC 1: SECURITY TECHNOLOGIES OVERVIEW Two papers on this topic were presented, one by Richard Jotcham, Axess Technologies Ltd., and the other by Michael Kolodny, U.S. Army Research Laboratory. SECURITY TECHNOLOGIES OVERVIEW AND APPLICATIONS Richard Jotcham outlined the various kinds of security tags that are currently used in the commercial world and commented on each. Tags may be added directly to products or be associated with their packaging. The areas discussed were these: Biometric tags Covert tags Forensic level tags Product characteristic tags Coding tags Electronic tags Biometric Tags Biometric identification systems include DNA and fingerprint analysis, iris, hand, and facial recognition, retinal scanning, signature authentication, and speech recognition. All are widely used, although facial recognition technology currently has a high rate of false positives. Covert Tags Examples of covert tags are color-coded plastic particles 20–30 μm on a side distributed throughout a product and gem stones with 10 μm colored spheres inserted between the crystal grains. Another example given was tagging a car by spraying tiny particles containing the vehicle identification number (VIN) all over the underside, to help identify parts that might be later removed and sold by thieves. Many covert tags are read spectroscopically using visible, ultraviolet, or infrared light. For example, documents can be tagged with ultraviolet fluorescent compounds and identified by analyzing the time-resolved fluorescence decay.

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Summary of the Sensing and Positioning Technology Workshop of the Committee on Nanotechnology for the Intelligence Community: Interim Report Forensic Level Tags Forensic level tags involve a complex authentication process and are often undetectable by normal methods. One example is DNA analysis, in which a strand binds with its complement and gives a machine-readable signal or a machine-readable hologram. When asked whether a person’s environment affects his body in an identifiable way, Jotcham noted that there is ongoing work on analyzing the bacteria that colonize the body and relating them to unique strains that may inhabit specific local environments. Product Characteristic Tags In-product analysis or authentication can be used to identify a specific product and determine if it has been diluted or subjected to other forms of tampering. The product itself can be characterized (by, for example, colorimetric testing, isotopic identification, spectroscopic fingerprinting, elemental analysis, and so on) or it can be identified by adding taggants such as molecules with hydrogen/deuterium isotope ratios (or ratios of other stable isotopes) that do not occur in nature. Commercial companies tend to be more interested in tracking the intermodal transportation of the aggregates through the supply chain rather than in tracking individual products per se. Coding Tags Coding (e.g., bar coding) provides a way for manufacturers to attach unique data or variable information to a product that creates a data stream as it moves through the supply chain. Bar coding had many skeptics when it was first proposed, but it is now inexpensive and ubiquitous and supported by a well-developed infrastructure. Unique identification data can be coded with an inkjet, and laser coding of identification data onto a product creates a tag that cannot easily be removed. Two-dimensional bar codes can be made very small (invisible to the eye) and may contain many times the information contained in one-dimensional bar codes. Electronic Tags Electronic tags can be used to identify a product’s current position to track its history of environmental changes and additions, and help to predict its future location and composition. Commercial industry primarily uses these tags to better control their supply chain dynamics and inventory. The best example is Dell Computer, which transformed the computer industry’s use of supply chain management to cut its operating costs and excess parts inventories. Jotcham discussed four levels of ID tags that can be used: the individual package (level 1); the display carton (level 2); the shipping case (level 3); and the pallet (level 4). With electronic tags, it is possible to read a level 1 code without opening the level 4 packaging. The best systems can alert the manufacturer when tampering has taken place. He pointed out that individuals can also be tracked by data generated in their everyday lives: drivers’ licenses, bill paying, insurance information, and payment of tolls and parking fees, as well as health care, schools, and work products. Electronic tracking can be divided into chipless tags—for example, magnetic, electromagnetic, and antitheft electronic article surveillance (EAS) devices—and chip-containing tags, which may be passive, active, or smart active. In addition, there are electronic product codes (EPCs), which are tiny

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Summary of the Sensing and Positioning Technology Workshop of the Committee on Nanotechnology for the Intelligence Community: Interim Report microchips (“nanoblocks”) that can carry many bits of product identification data unique to a particular item in a way that is similar to a car’s license plate. Advantages of chipless tags are their small size and low cost (1–5 cents per tag). Disadvantages are the short read range and low data capacity. Chip tags, on the other hand, have high data capacity with read, write, and erase capability and a high reading range but are expensive (50 cents to $5 per tag). The tags themselves are generally small, but the associated antennas are large. Finally, Jotcham offered some thoughts on the problem of finding, in an urban setting, an individual who doesn’t want to be found. He proposed three steps for finding such an individual: the elimination of cover; use of unique characteristics of the individual; and looking for an environmental fingerprint—the effects of the individual on his environment. NETWORKED SENSORS FOR THE BATTLEFIELD Michael Kolodny noted that the Army is moving toward fast, lightweight, smart forces that will trade armor for information. The Army is attempting to develop a family of high-fidelity, affordable, multimission, integrated sensors that will provide near-real-time, high-resolution, “in-the-mud” close-up information and a common operational picture to forces at all levels. The sensors will be deployed in clusters or networks that will require sensor fusion at the node and network levels, robust communication links, self-configuring and self-healing ad-hoc networks, and decision support tools. Five technology areas are key: Acoustic/seismic sensors that could detect and identify vehicles, helicopters, and the like and provide cueing for imagers (there are serious issues with triggering by spurious noises); Magnetic sensors that could detect vehicles and small arms (tanks can be detected at 50 to 500 meters, rifles at 2 to 17 meters); Infrared imagers for target identification; Radars as moving target indicators; and Radio frequency (RF) energy sensors to detect unintentional RF emissions (e.g., engine noise) as well as intentional emissions (e.g., detection and classification of radio signals). Fusion of all of the signals from these sensors will create a network that is more than the sum of its parts. The sensor network should degrade gracefully when individual units fail. Current programs are aimed at higher-cost (>$100 each), more capable sensor nodes but there is a desperate need for disposable sensors that could provide human detection capabilities in confined urban settings such as buildings, tunnels, and alleys. Urban warfare is the most difficult problem; most people in the world live in cities. The Army’s vision is for acoustic, magnetic, or seismic nodes (or very low-cost imagers) costing approximately $5 to $10 each that will require minimum communication bandwidth and power, because the more traditional form of RF devices probably will not be effective in these confined terrains. There are pacing issues regarding the timing of the sensor network communications, and the system must be resistant to jamming. Kolodny believes nanotechnology can contribute here by reducing size, thereby improving covertness. So far, the Army is focuing on commercial, off-the-shelf technology, because the design must be mass-producible. Low-power algorithms will have to be packaged into a modest-performance processor. The Army is evaluating a form of smart dust funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) that consists of a solar-powered chip (4.8 mm3 displaced volume) combined with acceleration and ambient light sensors and bidirectional communications. GPS-based systems are probably not viable. Major challenges include cost/size reduction of integrated microelectronics (wireless networks and filters for communications; large number of sensor arrays; high-frequency components; and

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Summary of the Sensing and Positioning Technology Workshop of the Committee on Nanotechnology for the Intelligence Community: Interim Report packaging), communications (energy-efficient miniature radios; energy-aware, ad-hoc networking), processing (power conservation; sensor and data fusion), and node location and orientation. Kolodny believes that many of the enabling technologies already exist, but the systems will have to be made smaller and less expensive, and all the elements of nodes will need to be integrated up front for a successful network. PANEL 1 DISCUSSION In response to a question about whether the enabling technologies already exist for unattended ground sensor networks described by Kolodny, he stated that the basic performance capabilities of individual pieces (e.g., sensors) are good enough if we can fuse the data and make them smaller and cheaper. One comment, however, was that as we go to smaller and smaller length scales, we may have to take an entirely different technological approach. The Army has specified a cost of no more than $10 per node, including communications, and is focusing on the commercial sector because it is interested in production runs on the order of 10 million units. On a small scale, there are commercial drivers for multiplexed sensors, such as sensors for tracking the location of products (e.g., laptops) within a building. Asked whether any self-assembled networks are currently available, Kolodny mentioned Millennia Net in Boston, as well as Smart Dust, Inc.’s Motes. He emphasized that the nodes must be emplaceable and mobile (e.g., wearable). Emplaceable does not necessarily mean stationary (they could be on wheels or wings); as forces engage, it might be desirable to move them. They should have a 75-km range and when used in caves may be deployed on microrobots. Mobile sensors today are not networked. If we wanted to tag an entire regiment rather than an individual soldier, how would the data be processed? High-capability nodes today have 32-bit floating point arithmetic processors, while less capable nodes have 8-bit processors. Companies are currently using radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to sense environmental conditions and track shipped material. (Temperature and humidity changes during shipping can cause a product to degrade, which can reflect poorly on the manufacturer.) Asked about the lifetime of sensors, Jotcham noted that passive sensors have essentially an infinite life, while the life of active sensors can be extended if one programs them to send out intermittent transmissions of information. For many military missions, a lifetime of at least 72 hours is desired, and all kinds of power conservation techniques are used. Where lifetimes of one month or so are required, one could spread the tags over a large group and activate them individually (e.g., with a laser) from a distance. This approach is being evaluated with RF tags. Organic electronics is one way to create cheap tags. Plastic chips are now available, and there is a great deal of research going on. The Army is looking 6 years out for deployment and hopes that advances in nanotechnology will provide a low-cost system on a chip. On the cost issue, it was noted that all of the examples given thus far appeared to describe a heterogeneous group of tags with unique characteristics. For an integrated national system of tags with standard capabilities, the panelists believed that commercial companies would likely favor any approach that reduced costs, as occurred with the existing bar coding system. Kolodny was asked whether there had been any real progress in unattended ground sensors recently. He responded the track record was poor. Essentially, there has been no progress since the 1970s. There are fieldable systems, but they are not used because they are too expensive (>$8,000 per node) and not easily deployable. With the Army shifting its focus to warfare in urban environments, deployable, cheap nodes are needed that can be fielded in the next 6 years.