Microchip Tagging And Bio-Hacking Yourself?!

By Bernhard Mehl
March 22, 2018

Disclaimer: The thoughts in this article are purely for educational purpose. We don’t endorse any of the methods that are mentioned.

In New York City, there are about 600.000 dogs registered and tagged. Have you ever wondered why registered dogsin New York are each tagged with a microchip under their skin? 

That’s a huge number of dogs! The reason for the microchip in the dog is as New York City states

“Unlike dog tags and collars, which can fall off or be removed, microchipping is a more permanent form of identifying your dog or cat.”

So if a dog gets lost and turns up at a shelter or vet’s office,

“a scanner can be used to read the digital number on the chip. A phone call to the microchip company to which you registered the microchip provides the shelter or vet with your contact information, and you can be contacted to retrieve your pet.”

Wait, New York City doesn’t have your contact information but the chip provider does?

Now for the ones who thought this is somewhat of an operation and hassle to get the microchip under their pets’ skin, NYC also has a good answer: “The procedure provides no more discomfort than a vaccination.” In fact you can do it yourself. There are self-tagging kits available here

Thinking of micochip tagging yourself? Well, you wouldn’t be the first one!  It sounds crazy but there are people who have taged themselves. They used microchip tagging implants in their hands to unlock the door or to copy machine. Participants in these so-called “biohacking events” reported that

“When I tested my chip, I found that it was not all that intuitive. I had to twist my hand into an unnatural position to make the photocopier work.”

— Rory Cellan-Jones

 Another reason to microchip themselves is that it is much cheaper to chip tag than to buy new door locks:

“Currently the chip acts as a simple security interface, allowing users to open their door without a key, although to do so they need to buy a new door lock, which are at the moment still expensive.”

Why don’t people adopt microchip tagging on a wider scale?

The obvious reason being is that people might be scared of having a chip under their skin. Proponents of microchip tagging would think “Hey, every dog in New York has it. They still live the same, happy life. I mean it can’t be that bad?”

Well, it goes deeper than that. Cyber security and technology is still very primal and infant. RFID chip, like key cards, has a fixed number or UUID that is attached to it. This number can be easily manipulated where your provided microchip identification can be falsified. Since it is surgically placed under the skin, it is difficult to exchange a manipulated chip-tag. It is scary to think about: would you want to have a manipulated chip tag under your skin? Certainly not us!

Additionally, RFID chips (and RFID cards) do not have a processor or sensors to help verify the identity the validity of the request. The RFID chips cannot prevent changes and verify the identity of the person carrying the chip. They can’t do more complex operations than sending a number to anything that reads it.

However, all these security hesitations and security risks are applicable and true for key cards. Everyone uses a key card to get in their office too. There is a general myth that key cards can be tracked to individual identity – it is a myth and not sound for key cards are insecure because individuals can easily pass them along and there is no way to track them.

Hey, writing this just gave us a new idea and you know what?

How about we build a reader for our dog to open the door when he is close?

The RFID tag is already implanted in the dogs, so we just need to register him on the system. Suddenly, onboarding dogs in the office is easier than onboarding people.

Food for thought: For the ones who don’t want to use microchips to unlock your computer. How about using your face to unlock Windows 10?


Phone-based systems are not just a small-business solution. CEO of Kisi, Bernhard Mehl, comments: “If you see the average of three doors connected then that might seem low but, in reality, one door relates to around 50 employees—so those are locations with about 150 people on average, including satellite offices. That’s quite significant.”

Mobile Access Control Adoption by Industry

Kisi examined which industries are investing the most in mobile access control technology. To do so, the average size of mobile access control installation projects by industry were measured. Commercial real estate topped the list with 23.5 doors running mobile access per facility. Education management came in last with 1.0 door running mobile access per facility. 

Physical Security Statistics: Mobile Access by Industry

The number of shooting incidents at K-12 schools, according to the CHDS, reached an all-time high at 97 incidents in 2018—compared to 44 in 2017. Cloud-based access control companies, like Kisi, offer a lockdown feature for active shooter situations or emergencies, making it an effective protective layer for places that are targeted, such as religious institutions, which come in near the top of the list with 4.0 doors running mobile access per facility. 

Based on industry size, it makes sense that commercial real estate tops the list, with 23.5 doors running mobile access per facility. Cloud-based access control enables these larger organizations to scale more seamlessly and allows large organizations, like telecommunications, to deploy the most manageable IT solutions available, eliminating the need to create and manage a business’s own IT infrastructure over time.

“Commercial real estate is, of course, the driver of mobile adoption since they have the largest buildings,” Mehl adds. “The key here is to show that mobile-first technologies are not a risk but an innovation that brings positive ROI and allows agencies to reposition their buildings as forward-thinking establishments.”

The scalabelilty and ease of use in onboarding an organization allows many different types of industries and businesses of different sizes to adapt a cloud-based access control system, either using keycard or mobile credentials for access. 

Mobile Access Control by State

Looking specifically at the United States, Kisi analyzed in which states companies are investing the most into upgrading to smartphone-enabled access systems. Of the currently installed base of access control readers, around 20 percent will be mobile capable by 2022, according to a recent IHS report. Cloud-based systems, like Kisi, are future-proof—allowing over-the-air updates in real time and unlimited scalability for users.

“Mobile unlock technology makes you think of the major tech hubs like New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles,” Mehl adds. “Looking at which states have the largest projects, it’s surprising and refreshing that those are not the typical ‘tech cities, and yet that’s where access control technology really makes an impact.” The fact that the largest projects are seen in states outside of the typical tech startup landscape is evidence that mobile access control is highly applicable across industry sectors.

For further questions about this study, reach out to Kait Hobson (kait@getkisi.com)

Bernhard Mehl

Bernhard is the co-founder and CEO of Kisi. His philosophy, "security is awesome," is contagious among tech-enabled companies.

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