General Question: Warehouse Bar-coding, how secure is?

Posted on 2005-04-17
Last Modified: 2010-04-11
Not sure if I’m in the right forum…if not please direct; thanks!

I good friend of mine, recently stated that the Cdn military has not implement bar-coding and asset-tracking solutions in the supply chain, and warehouses, because of lack of security with bar-coding.  Essentially, I’m told, that if a hacker gets into the supply bar-coding system….which they say is easy; they can then easily have access throughout all other systems…finance, operations, etc….

To be honest this just doesn’t seem right to me; most [if not all] of the big chains, Wal-Mart, as an example, must, I assume uses bar-coding for asset tracking, which seems the logical thing to do, and makes good business sense.  So based on the military’s train of thought being true, then why would other large inventory driven businesses use bar-coding, or do they accept that their system(s) are vulnerable, but any damage done by such attacks, is an acceptable trade off for accurate accountability of asset tracking.

Just doesn’t seem right.  The military uses Firewalls, and I would think they must have a layered system to prevent any attacks from entering, and I would further think that a system would be in place to divide servers, so that if a hacker got into one system…in this case the Supply-chain, they would be unable to get into another, or are they all linked in some open manner.  I don’t know…are all the LANs connected – perhaps; it still doesn’t seem right, but I don’t know enough about LANs, MANs, WANs, Servers, or Bar-coding and asset tracking, and/or securing such system to be of any value.
So, I guess my question is; How secure are Bar-coding systems, and what issues of security would make the military not use them?

I’m just curious about this whole issue, and would appreciate a better understanding!

Thanks in advance.
Question by:DWB
    LVL 27

    Accepted Solution

    A barcode represends a number, nothing more. So if you run a system that uses handheld devices to work with these freights, I see no security problem, as long as those handhelds are not directly connected  via wlan to any other computer system with important data.

    Like you said. A good firewall structure helps you to keep out unwanted guests.

    Even if you have a connection to a computersystem via WLan, your handheld might send a number to a computersystem, a service might check that code and answer with the name and amount in stock of the good.  No other information exchange permitted and no other ports available.

    These security concernes sound more to me like "never change a running system...."


    Author Comment

    My thoughts ran very similar to yours, and I suspect your last statement may indeed be correct.  Thanks for your time, and thoughts!


    LVL 8

    Expert Comment


    the only vuln i see here is the ability to transmit on the wireless inventory tracking system causing above or below proper inventory results. maybe you could then physically steal something from them and they wouldnt be able to account for it as inventory reports correct amount left.

    I.E. inventory show 120 TV's in stock, modify inventory to show 119 in stock. steal one and they will never know.
    LVL 27

    Expert Comment

    We are not talking about nuclear warheads, are we :-P


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