You Can Clone but You Cannot Hide: A Survey of Clone Prevention and Detection for RFID

Kai Bu, Minyu Weng, Yi Zheng, Bin Xiao, Xuan Liu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is one of the driving technologies for Internet of Things. The architecture-succinctness and cost-effectiveness of RFID tags promise their proliferation as well as allure security and privacy breaches. The cloning attack using clone tags to impersonate genuine tags can lead to unimaginable threats because RFID applications equate tag genuineness to the authenticity of tagged objects. Proposed countermeasures, however, keep showing limitations in effectiveness, efficiency, security, privacy, or applicability as new RFID applications emerge. The countermeasures therefore require constant review and improvement to stay at the leading edge. In this paper, we conduct the first comprehensive and systematic survey of RFID clone prevention and detection solutions. We systematically classify existing RFID cloning countermeasures over the period 2003-2016, sketch the main idea and highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each solution type, and summarize the similarity and difference among solution types. We find that RFID cloning countermeasures turn to be much more complex to design than they were thought in the literature. Prevention solutions can hardly thwart RFID cloning completely. Detection solutions may have specific application requirements to take effect. Many open issues further complicate the design of RFID cloning countermeasures. We hope that our survey can provide academic researchers and industrial engineers with useful references to combat RFID cloning and therefore to secure RFID ecosystem.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7888545
Pages (from-to)1682-1700
Number of pages19
JournalIEEE Communications Surveys and Tutorials
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017


  • cloning attack
  • detection
  • IoT
  • prevention
  • RFID

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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