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Vulnerability Assessment Team discusses digital privacy with Medill Reports

Roger Johnston, Argonne National Laboratory

Dr. Roger Johnston and his team conduct multi-disciplinary research and development on physical security devices, systems and programs.
Video still courtesy of Medill Reports.

Jun. 9, 2011
Graduate students from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University interviewed Dr. Roger Johnston and Dr. Jon Warner with the Vulnerability Assessment Team at Argonne National Laboratory. The students produced a video news story about radio frequency identification tags (RFIDs), with Johnston and Warner discussing their experience and views on RFIDs: That they are effective for inventory purposes (counting and locating assets), but of little use for security applications (detecting theft, diversion, tampering, or counterfeiting) because they are easy (even for hobbyists) to spoof or defeat.


Jon Warner, Argonne National Laboratory

Systems engineer Dr. Jon Warner sharing his views and on RFIDs during the interview.
Video still courtesy of Medill Reports.

There are also some legitimate (but often overblown) fears about loss of privacy with RFIDs. The average person should, however, be concerned about theft of personal information stored on credit cards (and maybe even passports) that contain RFIDs. A little aluminum foil or any of the commercial products to shield credit cards from electromagnetic radiation can greatly reduce the risk, though the bad guys typically would have to get within a few inches of the RFIDs to easily read them.

A link to the Medill Reports article and video is available below.


The VAT does vulnerability assessments on a wide variety of physical security devices, systems, and programs, and undertakes research and consulting to help improve security.

Related Information


  • Digital privacy: Are you ever alone? - read the article by Ashley Cullins and Brian Warmoth and watch the video of their interview of Roger Johnston and Jon Warner at the Medill Reports web site


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Last Modified: Wed, April 20, 2016 9:36 AM


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For more information, please contact the Nuclear Engineering Division () at Argonne.