How to Choose RFID MIFARE Chip?

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nxp mifare chip

MIkron FARE Collection System (MIFARE) is a leading contactless solution by NXP. Due to its immense security benefits, organizations have widely adopted its use. It is used by hundreds of millions of people every day. 

If you’ve been to any modern office, you may have noticed that employees use cards to gain access to restricted areas, right? 

But how exactly does that happen?

Well, the card uses RFID chips that contain the employees’ identifiable data. The system also consists of an RFID reader that reads the card’s data within a distance range of 10 cm/ 4 inches. If the information is correct, then the employee gains access. 

If you want to get the best results, you must select the best RFID MIFARE Chip for your business. This article highlights all the considerations you should make when shopping for one. 

A Brief History of MIFARE

MIFARE is one of the most transformative innovations. It enhances security by ensuring a flawless contactless identification process. 

The technology was introduced in 1994. It was the first ISO/IEC 14443 contactless memory IC complete with cryptography. The invention has since spread to many cities globally. 

How MIFARE Cards Work

All MIFARE devices have an RFID tag that is detectable by an RFID reader located 10 cm away. Once the RFID reader captures the information, it will analyze it and implement the intended action.

For example;

An employer can use this MIFARE RFID system to capture the data of all employees. In such a case, the employee will have to use the card to access the employer’s premises. If the card is not available, then the employee will be denied access. As a result, the system will register that that particular employee did not report to work.

You should note that the RFID MIFARE chip can be implanted on any material. The most used materials include cards, wristbands, key fobs, bus passes, toll cards, library cards, employee badges, student IDs, and metro cards. 

nxp mifare chip

The interrogator/ RFID reader will detect any material with a chip. This flexibility allows the technology to be used in different places, including universities, transport ticketing, corporate buildings, hotels, and stadiums. 

nxp mifare chip

Why Choosing the Right RFID MIFARE Chip is Necessary 

NXP’s MIFARE 13.56MHz high-frequency chips will indeed offer an unmatched contactless identification. 

Well, knowing this is the easier part! Selecting the best RFID MIFARE chip remains a hassle for many users. You should know that the chip you select will affect the RFID system’s functionality.

As such, you should take your time to read the guide below. It analyzes all the MIFARE series chips and highlights their features. This way, you will choose that which will address your needs conclusively. 

Standards Compliance

Before we look at the types of MIFARE chips, let’s analyze the need for Standards compliance.

RFID MIFARE chips hold a lot of data that is prone to abuse by cybercriminals. To avert this, regulatory bodies, such as ISO, have the mandate to ensure that any RFID system protects data integrity. 

MIFARE’s IC products have PKI crypto-engine drives for guaranteed security when used in risky environments. Additionally, all of these products are ISO/IEC 14443 and conform to the NFC Forum 4 label standards. 

Types of RFID MIFARE Chips

  1. MIFARE Classic 

This was NXP’s pioneer MIFARE contactless chip. It complies with ISO 14443 and operates within the 13.56 MHz frequency range.

Its write/read capability led to a quick uptake in the market. It is used in the transportation sector, learning institutions, employees’ cards, and corporate access management.

Some of the critical features of this IC include:

  • Available with either 7-byte unique identifier or 4-byte non-unique identifier 
  • MIFARE 1k comes with 1KB split into 16 sectors, and MIFARE 4K has 4KB split into 40 sectors
  • Programmable memory access features 

The MIFARE classic series chips are some of the most affordable and reliable cards in the market. This feature has increased its uptake in the transportation and the educational sectors. 

While the uptake was great, it exposed the classic series to security weaknesses. As a result, NXP developed a more stable MIFARE Classic EV1 chip, ideal for use with security-relevant applications. 

This RFID MIFARE chip is an improvement of the pioneer Classic chip. It comes in 1K and 4K EEPROM memory versions, which guarantees flexibility.

Additionally, the chip works well within the 13.56 MHz encrypted frequency. The encryption offers additional security preventing data leakages. 

The MIFARE Classic EV1 boasts of ISO/IEC 14443 certification and an operational range of up to 10 cm. It transfers data with an exceptional speed of up to 106 kb/s. Here are its other unique features:

  • Enhanced ESD features
  • 200,000 write endurance 
  • True random number generator 
  • NXP originality check feature 

The chip has been used in several sectors, including time tracking, access control, and public transportation. 

This family comprises EV1, EV2, and Light contactless ICs. It has an intricate working rationale ideal for use by solution developers.

The chip offers scalable contactless solutions that can be used in micro-payment and transport schemes. 

It offers the following unique features:

  • Secure data storage and transmission
  • Flexible memory
  • Compliant with ISO/IEC 14443A with optional ISO/IEC 7814-4 commands 
  • NFC Tag type 4 compliant
  • On-chip backup system
  • 3-factor authentication for guaranteed safety 

The MIFARE DESFire also comes with an anti-tear mechanism that guarantees data integrity. It transfers data and a rate of 848 Kbit/s. 

This chip family offers enhanced security features for Smart City services. It enables a seamless migration of the existing classic chip without data loss. 

Even better, the chip is compatible with other previously produced chips. This feature makes it affordable for organizations to migrate to high-security smart card applications. 

The MIFARE Plus chip offers AES security for authentication, encryption, and data security features that meet global standards. The product has two levels, including:

  • MIFARE Plus EV2
  • MIFARE Plus SE 

Both variations are ISO/IEC 14443 certified. The only difference is that the EV2 has an additional CC EAL5+ certificate. They are applied in access management, citizen cards, loyalty, public transportation, and car parking. 

The MIFARE Ultralight provides a solution for high volume and low-cost applications. They are applicable in areas such as public transportation, event ticketing, and loyalty cards. 

It has the following unique features:

  • One-time programmable memory 
  • IOS unique identifier
  • Limited use applications leading to low installation and maintenance costs
  • Easy to integrate into existing systems

It has three family members, including:

  • MIFARE Ultralight C. It features a 112-bit 3DES security system. It also supports 3DES Cryptography for limited-use applications.
  • MIFARE Ultralight EV1. It features a 32-bit password and password acknowledge security system. Its contactless IC with password protection is ideal for paper ticketing and cards.
  • MIFARE Ultralight Nano. This is a contactless IC with an original programmable signature. This feature enhances security for its users. 

This chip family can be used in hotel rooms and other areas that require access authorization. 

What’s the Difference Between The RFID MIFARE Chips?

When NXP developed the MIFARE Classic chip, they didn’t institute tight security measures.  

As such, they developed other families to enhance security when using the chips for various transactions. 

The latest chips have more security features, including authentication, password protection, and other sophisticated data protection mechanisms.

Consequently, you should avoid using the MIFARE Classic version if you handle applications that require top-notch security. 

Other differences among the MIFARE families include:

  • Memory Size. The memory for MIFARE families ranges from 40 to 32K bytes. The Ultralight version has an average of 100 bytes, while MIFARE DESFire EV2 boasts 32K bytes memory. 
  • Data Processing Speed. The communication speed ranges from 106kbps to 848kbps, with the MIFARE DESFire having the best speed.
  • UID Unique Identifier. The MIFARE Ultralight has a 7-byte UID while Classic & Plus have 7-byte UID, 4-byte NUID, Random ID. The DESFire has 7-byte UID, Random ID. 

When you step out to shop for an RFID MIFARE chip, you should consider other product features outlined in this comparison table. The table gives a comprehensive analysis of all the factors that affect each RFID MIFARE chip’s functionality. 

 The Bottom Line

RFID MIFARE chips have simplified data management and logistics for many organizations globally. The technology uses RFID chips to read/write data, making it easy to manage corporate access and ticketing. 

The RFID MIFARE technology has been used in different sectors, including transportation, employees’ card identification, library cards, loyalty cards, car parking, and citizen cards. 

While these cards are efficient, you will only enjoy maximum benefits if you shop for the right chip. 

For example, buying a Classic MIFARE card when handling information that requires high security would be risky. In such cases, you should consider using MIFARE DESFire or Ultralight since they have enhanced security features. 

If that sounds confusing, then you shouldn’t worry! This article breaks down all the jargon for you. We’ve highlighted the types of MIFARE chips in the market and offered excellent tips on choosing the right one for your business.

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