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Mobile ID & Supply Chain: A Game Changer

We already know that mobile is the new desktop. Except in government offices and financial institutions, most office workers are relying on mobile devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones to perform their work.

In order to secure all those devices the concept of Mobile ID has been under development during the past few years. With a secure Mobile ID, there is no need to handle multiple passwords and security questions. Once the user is recognized securely in one device, the other devices are unlocked automatically when proximity is detected.

The same concept is now being applied to the supply chain. New tracking devices are being attached to components, packages, containers, etc. This new generation of “mobile” devices is not “dumb” anymore. The devices are smart and secure.

The revolution of the IoT is making this happen quickly. From the radio-frequency identification (RFID) of the 1990s to the near field communications (NFC) of the last decade, we are now getting into the area of smartchips and smart beacons, all with their own unique “Mobile ID.”

The new devices not only offer a unique ID to be tracked, they also track themselves, keeping a log of their location, scan data, and who and when their information is accessed. The smart contactless chips also add a layer of security previously limited to SIM cards and Secure ID documents (such as electronic passports and ID cards).

Smart contactless tags, similar to the new generation of Chip+Pin, can generate a unique code each transaction, based on their unique ID, thus making it almost impossible to duplicate or tamper with them.

Real Time Locating Systems (RTLS) are being deployed worldwide. The development of new WiFi and IoT communication standards, such as 802.11ah and Zigbee, is also allowing the appearance of new “self-communicating devices,” low-power sensors that can run on the same wireless signal they use to communicate. No longer does an NFC scanner or barcode reader need to be in close proximity to access the information. Instead, the device itself, with its unique Mobile ID, is able to log into an open network and yell, “Here I am!” establishing a secure line with its owner.

The implications for the entire supply chain are astronomical. If this new generation of mobile smart tags and devices is used properly it could help to detect any tampering, mishandling or security issues during manufacturing, transit, and final use of the component.

Imagine a smartphone vendor being able to determine the exact time it takes for its components to arrive at the assembly facility, how long it takes to verify and put together the final product, and the exact conditions of its delivery to the final destination, including when the end user finally activates the device. All of this secured with unique, encrypted keys, that only the vendor can access.

Due to the complexity of the supply chain, deployment of all these new technologies can take years, but that is no excuse for not investing in them now. These new capabilities should also not be exclusive to high-end technology products but used across every industry that needs reliable information about its suppliers, components, manufacturing, and logistics.

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