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Bo McMillan

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Privacy and Data Security in the RFID Industry

Posted by Bo McMillan on Thu, Dec 3, 2015 @ 16:12 PM



If a list of buzzwords was to be created for 2015 (and surely there will be such a list), one of those words will no doubt be “security.” Granted, that particular word could come in a variety of forms: cybersecurity, data security, even data breach, privacy, etc. Large-scale data breaches like what happened to Target, and even our own government, have made people acutely aware of how easily information can be stolen and the need to keep it protected. That need certainly expands to the RFID realm as what we do literally involves specific information being packaged and shipped in easy-to-read labels.

            What Odyssey does then, in light of protecting sensitive information, is a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand we seek to be a pioneer in the DoD RFID and smart label realm by using technology and methods, which streamline time, effort, and information for DoD vendors. In other words, the Odyssey software uses emerging technology to make life easier on our clients. That’s good, right? Of course it is. But the reverse of that is the fact that information, especially distilled information that’s meant to be moved easily, affords better opportunities for data to be stolen. We live in a world where efficiency isn’t enough. Privacy has risen to such a great importance that customers and companies are willing to forgo simplicity and efficiency in order to protect their information.

            At the risk of frightening readers out of passive RFID technology, it must be noted that our solutions to these risks will be outlined further in the post and that we consider the privacy of our information of the utmost importance. That being said, passive RFID presents a unique opportunity to those looking to get ahold of information in unauthorized manners. The difference in our passive tags, as opposed to active tags, is that passive tags lay dormant until picked up by a reader or scanner. That data is essentially sitting on the tag waiting to be read. DoD vendors tend to use short-range scanners in their warehouses that read these labels as they enter or exit their facilities, cataloging the boxes and pallets for appropriate tracking. Suppose, for a moment that an outside source, someone looking to steal a supplier’s data for malicious intent, were to use a long-range reader to activate a label and intercept data during shipment. Scary, right? Particularly since something like that doesn’t seem all that difficult to do. “Skimming,” as this is sometimes called, is the reason RFID-blocking wallets exist and are popular amongst travelers. With passive chips being embedded in credit cards, driver’s licenses and passports, those looking to protect their information are buying them up in droves.

            But what about our industry? What about DoD suppliers looking to ship their assets with absolute safety? Surely there are no wallets big enough to put pallets in. So what do we do? Well, several things actually. We believe that a multi-layered security approach is key to protecting our clients. We start by encrypting all data being sent from Odyssey servers, which blocks unauthorized outside access. Next, we ensure that the data on our tags acts as more as a key than a source of vital information. Essentially, the labels only contain a cage code and serial number. No personal information, etc. is included. If a malicious source did attempt to intercept any data from the tags they wouldn’t tell that source much at all. This “key” format, used by the DoD, means the labels simply unlock more information. That information is securely stored in iRAPT, which we have written about in the past.

            The privacy and security landscape is changing all around the world. Our goal is to be one step ahead of the trends, just like we do with technology in our industry. We consider client privacy one of the key services in the complete experience we’ve built with Odyssey’s software.


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Topics: RFID, Passive RFID, Data Security

EDI and VAN Services Aren't Always Glamorous But They Are Critical

Posted by Bo McMillan on Wed, Nov 5, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

Have you ever stopped to wonder how your email client works? We live in a world where exchanging messages is as simple as hitting “Send,” and hearing our phones beep as a new reply automatically shows up in our inboxes. Have you ever thought about the wealth of information that’s taking place behind the scenes for those messages to travel like that, though? You’d be forgiven if you hadn’t. Not everyone is interested in the logistics of data exchange. We live for it at Odyssey, though.

            Electronic data interchange, or EDI, is at the heart of what we do at Odyssey and, as critical as it is, one of our goals is to make sure our customers never have to worry about it. EDI essentially provides a standard for exchanging data via any electronic means. By adhering to these standards, two entities, in entirely different locations, can exchange complex data.  EDI, atSoftware integration its most basic, is the backbone of communication between the Government and Odyssey; hence why we think it’s so fundamental, and why we tend to get pretty excited talking about it.

            Unfortunately, for some, the process of EDI is a tedious, and ultimately frustrating, affair. Limitations to the adoption of EDI, such as companies sharing proprietary data, can cause issues with data exchange. To counteract this, Value-Added Networks, or VANs, were created. VANs act as mediators between companies so that data can be processed and exchanged appropriately. To that end, Odyssey took the necessary steps to become a government approved VAN. Think of a VAN like a post office. It takes the data and encapsulates it into something that can be shared between two entities, much like a post office placing appropriate stamps on your letters and then sending them out through their carriers. This sounds great on the surface, but VAN services are expensive and typically don’t have an easy-to-use interface component. Because of this, companies will sometimes pass up large contracts or special programs within the DoD that require special reporting or invoicing pathways. On top of this, companies that use a VAN will still need software to make practical use of the data.

            To bypass this mess, we made the Odyssey software to easily implement EDI connectivity with a user interface for business process functions such as:

  • RFQ noticfication, submission, and purchase acknowledgement
  • Contract management,
  • Mil-Std 129 R or Mil-Std 130 N label creation
  • Invoicing,
  • Submission of advanced shipment notices
  • Receipt of payment documentation and reporting,

            What does that mean from our customers’ standpoint? It means that EDI stops being a concern for them. Our software handles the logistical end of electronic data interchange and leaves the customer with a streamlined experience that takes just a few clicks to complete.

            Because ease of use is so important to Odyssey and its customers, we’ve created our software to be accessed anywhere, whether it be a PC, Mac, tablet, etc. This means that our customers have complete freedom in where they log into the Odyssey solution. We think this flexibility is paramount in today’s business world as more and more companies are operating inPrivate Cloud multiple geographic locations and employees working from home offices is becoming increasingly popular. We do recognize, however, that as cloud-based and web-based software become more prevalent so too do security risks. There are daily reports about data security and privacy breaches, viruses and malware, so we specifically constructed Odyssey’s software to offer all the conveniences of cloud-based architecture while simultaneously mitigating cyber security risks. No ads or outside sources are featured within the interface and our SaaS platform is accessed through private architecture and client-specific secure certificate domains. 

            Just like with email exchange clients, Odyssey’s software is at its best when the user isn’t concerned with the logistics of data exchanges happening in the background. We encourage our customers to enjoy the simple interface and the ease at which they can complete compliance and commerce tasks within the DoD space.

Topics: DoD approved software, WAWF, dod compliance, RFID Software, MIL-STD-129, MIL-STD 129R, VAN, Value Added Networks, MIL-STD 130 N, EDI, Government Approved VAN