VeriSign Plans RFID Security Enhancements

VeriSign, already the operator of epcGlobal's root directory services, is now working with the RFID standards group on security enhancements at the tag and device levels. Meanwhile, as a "solutions consultant," the vendor is figuring out ways

After making a range of moves last year toward bolstering RFID adoption, network specialist VeriSign Inc. is now working with epcGlobal on future RFID security improvements, while also consulting enterprises about which business processes to RFID-enable in the interests of quicker ROI.

VeriSign started out 2004 by announcing that it had nailed down a contract with RFID standards body epcGlobal for running root directory services that allow the use of RFID tag data on large networks.

Now, also in collaboration with epcGlobal, VeriSign is developing future enhancements meant to make RFID more tamper-proof at levels that include "the [RFID] tag, the device and data sharing between tags," said Paul Strzelec, director of marketing for VeriSign Directory Services, in an interview with

Meanwhile, the vendor has identified a couple of ways to help speed ROI from RFID. One effective approach consists of sophisticated "cross-docking" applications, in which products are traced all the way from manufacturing through distribution centers and retail stores, Strzelec said.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read why Jacqueline Emigh says item-level RFID is years away for retailers.

VeriSign is currently working on cross-docking applications with two large retailers in Europe, in addition to customers elsewhere. "I guess you could say were doing solutions consulting. And these solutions are available, here and now," he said.

Another approach—possibly advantageous to pharmaceutical and food manufacturing firms, for instance—calls for the use of RFID in gaining "proof of delivery" benefits.

"This will give [a product] a pedigree, to show where its sourced from," he said. In the UK, for instance, food manufacturers might obtain proof of delivery to show theyre in compliance with beef regulations.

/zimages/5/28571.gifAt the recent retail show, retail CIOs demoed RFID prototypes. Click here to read more.

Over the next three to six months, Strzelec expects that some customers will start adding merchandising and marketing processes to the RFID applications mix.

"Its a significant problem in building affinity when you put a lot of effort into promoting a product, but then, when [the shopper] gets there, the product is out of stock. Some of your business just walked away. So RFID is starting to get more attention from merchandisers and marketers," he said.

Next Page: RFID outsourcing program.