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This appears to be hot news today, Motorola announced a form of pill that a user can swallow which is activated and powered by stomach acids and transmits a signal back which can be used to authenticate a system via "an 18-bit signal".

Is this some form of RFID? If it is, how is this any more secure than any other form of RFID authentication mechanism? Small RFID systems that i've previously investigated have notoriously poor security features so i can't imagine anything this small being particularly powerful.

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Well, you can call it an RFID, except that it has a very close range, you need to touch the receiver. It has absolutely no improvement on security (wait to see toilet diving instead of dumpster diving). The only value this "invention" in particular has is the PR value. –  Adnan May 31 '13 at 6:58
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@DeerHunter - Well, in all fairness, the backdoor is already expected to be provided by the end user. It's the only way to change pill induced passwords before their expiry date. This brings a whole new meaning to "You should change your password" phrase. :)) –  TildalWave May 31 '13 at 9:33
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@TildalWave also new meaning to "password leakage"... –  AviD May 31 '13 at 9:35
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@AviD - I just lost a few bits of my password laughing :) –  TildalWave May 31 '13 at 9:36
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@TildalWave Passwords should only be stored in volatile memory. I think your doctor should probably put you on a very strict password policy.... –  AviD May 31 '13 at 9:38

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

The thought is probably that since it is inside you it can't be stolen, so obviously it would be more secure than a form of ID that could be stolen. I think it's pointless, and actually potentially hazardous to the user:

  • It would only last a few hours. It's powered by stomach acid, once it's out of the stomach it would stop working. What are going to do, take an authentication pill every day? Why not use other biometrics what rely on what you are, rather than what you have?
  • It's dangerous to the user. Nowdays if a thief wants money out of your bank account he/she will skim your card and capture your pin with a camera or a fake keypad. It's not a violent crime. With an intestine-based authentication system (or any biometric authentication system) the thieves will need the user physically in order to authenticate, opening the user up to kidnap, coercion, forced vomiting, or at worst having their guts cut out

It's an interesting experiment, however I wouldn't actually want to use it. If someone threatens me with a knife or a gun wanting my money, entry into a facility or whatever then I can give them my cards, my codes, my key fob, whatever. The trouble with a swallowed device is that I can't give it to them at will.

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Hehe, literally "opening the user up"... –  AviD May 31 '13 at 8:27
    
Yeah, opening the user up to being opened up! It's one way to lose weight I suppose. –  GdD May 31 '13 at 8:40

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