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eTag system a Trouble Maker or Best Solution?

By Vincent Wang
Published: Jan 13,2014

The FETC eTag system: including Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), live video, and image managem

TAIPEI, TAIWAN — Is the newly launched Taiwan eTag system a trouble maker or the best solution for freeway drivers? It is reportedly that 121 users were falsely charged on Jan. 3 to 4, causing severe issues on the island.

In order to cooperate with Taiwan new transportation “pay as you go” policies that was launched on Dec. 30, 2013, freeway drivers are charged based on the distances they travel. Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co. (FETC) was commissioned by Taiwan Area National Freeway Bureau to set up the Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) service that can be viewed as part of Intelligent Transport System (ITS).

According to FETC, it is adapted EFKON system from Austria that also was tested by TUV company of Germany, which used 850nm Infrared (IR) communication as eletronic charging technogy. The major advantage of IR communication is security that in the modern world the confidentiality of information must be emphasized when communication takes place, allowing for high confidentiality to be maintained.

Paradoxically, its bragging safety has been broken by Taiwanese malicious hackers, FETC said that the ETC system’s mobile-phone application was repeatedly suffered attacks from hackers on the New Year's Day. The application was hacked 8.2 billion times in various time periods during the day, causing 121 users were falsely charged.

A FETC survey showed that over 5.7 million people use the new ETC system, taking up nearly 90 percent of the 6 million highway users in the island.

In a previous press release FETC said that the rights of drivers are always ranked the frist priority, and FETC will cooperate with the government's inspections and conduct multiple reviews on the eTag system to prevent any mistakes from happening again.

The FETC eTag system: including Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), live video, and image management and identificaton, along with the back end users' database, cash flow system, and users' inquiry system that all need to integrated with the motherboard or tag device.

For example, the RFID readers on freeway send microwave to read to eTag data on vehicles. However, not only FETC had to worry about hackers, but also what if users implemented microwave generator on vehicles to interfere FETC's RFID readers. How to prevent then?

As an old saying goes “Time Tells.” It seems that whether eTag system is a trouble maker or the best solution still remains to be seen.

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