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Can new lightweight RFID security mutual authentication protocol based on the hash-function protect against attacks upon the perception layer in RFID in the medical field
Keywords:Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), Internet of Things (IoT), Hash-Lock protocol, security, privacy, reader, tag
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a technology that enables interaction between the digital world and the physical world. It is important and meaningful to study the security of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology as it is the cornerstone of IoT. In the past decade, due to its portability, it has drawn considerable attention in the healthcare field. The technology effectively tracks hospital supplies, medical equipment, and can store patient information. However, due to the lack of authentication protocols, RFID has security and privacy issues including tag anonymity, replay attack and inconsistent synchronicity and forward secrecy deficiency, which greatly affects the widespread use of this technology in the medical field. Due to the security and privacy issues of RFID, the authentication protocol has become the research priority. This paper discusses current solutions based on authentication protocols, analyses and discusses the advantages and limitations of current methods. Finally, based on the original security authentication protocol, an improved lightweight RFID protocol for security with low hardware resources and low calculation requirements is proposed for RFID security. This paper solves the attack problem of eavesdropping, tracking and so on. It analyses the calculation amount of the protocol so that it can meet the limited computing capability and the low-cost requirement of RFID. It proves the feasibility of the protocol in the medical field.
RFID technology is the core of the perception layer of the IoT. RFID technology can realise automatic identification and data exchange without the need for contact and conduct real-time information transmission between objects without manual operation (Yung, E & Leung, I, 2009). In a medical system, a large amount of data like patient profile and drug information need to be collected and stored. Compared with the traditional low-efficiency manual information system, RFID technology has the advantages of being waterproof, anti-magnetic, having longevity, a wide reading range and convenient data storage. At present, the application of RFID technology is from the earliest mobile nursing to operating room management, consumables management, equipment asset management, drug management and other fields (W.Z. Khan et al., 2016).
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However, in an RFID system, because of the limited storage and calculation capability of tag as well as the open communication link between the tag and reader, it is prone to attack. Thus, the security problem of RFID also becomes a privacy and safety problem in medical systems as it could cause information leakage and malicious distorted information (K. Fan et al.,2018). This proposal aims to put forward a security authentication protocol for RFID security protection. According to the limited resources and calculation capability of RFID technology, the authentication protocol needs to balance security and cost. The proposal is an efficient, practical and compatible security authentication protocol and protection mechanism based on the hash function. This is used in limited hardware resources of electronic tags and it is expected to avoid the security issues including eavesdropping, tracking and consistent synchronicity, which can promote the utilisation of RFID in medical systems and build an intelligent healthcare architecture.
As a sensing layer of IoT in the medical field, RFID technology stores personal information of patients such as their health status, personal name, etc. If there is no proper protection, the contents could be easily disclosed by external monitoring and stealing as RFID tags and readers communicate with broadcasting. Currently, many security problems are still dangerous for RFIDs in the medical field. Security mechanisms based on the cryptographic algorithm are regarded as key solutions for RFID security protection. For the cryptographic algorithm, the technology is quite mature. And it is widely used in the security authentication protocol. Scholars from various countries have made long-term research on security protecting of RFID tags as much as possible through management and technology and have achieved a series of research results.
In addition to this, S. Weis (2003) put forward the Hash-Lock protocol for security protection in RFID. The core idea is to replace the real tag ID with a meta ID. The Hash-Lock protocol requires implementing the cryptographic hash-function on the tag as well as a key at the backend. For this setup, no information is displayed by the tag until the right key is sent by the reader corresponding to the meta-ID. The process involves the reader sending a hash of a random key (meta-ID) to the tag to lock it. After that, the reader will store the key and the meta-ID in the backend database. Once locked, only when queried, the tag will respond to the meta-ID. According to (H.K. Verma et al., 2011) the unlocking of the tag will be a result of the reader querying the tag for the meta-ID.
If the query is successful and the meta-ID was located, the key is sent to the tag for unlocking. Verification of the key and the meta-ID within the tag is undertaken; if this is successful the tag will be unlocked, allowing the reader access. Using this scheme, unauthorised readers cannot read tag contents. However, it cannot guarantee the confidentiality of data, the tag can be easily tracked and may be susceptible to attacks by replay and forgery. In order to solve this problem of tag tracking in the Hash-Lock protocol, S. Weis et al. (2004) propounded a random Hash-Lock protocol. For the different queries of the reader in this protocol, the tag generates a random number, ‘R’, and the tag returns H(ID||R) back to the reader to avoid being tracked, where “||” is a string concatenation symbol. The response of the tag is random in this authentication protocol, which solves the problem of tracking and locating the tag according to the same response. However, this protocol does not have forward security. Moreover, the protocol has a large amount of data communication and computation, and it is difficult to use in complicated situations.
To ensure forward security, Ohkubo. M (2004) proposed the Hash-Chain protocol. Each time the authentication request from the reader is received by the tag, the response value is returned to the reader and the secret value is updated. The secret value stored in the tag is continuously updated to obviate private information from being leaked, caused by tracking and positioning. Furthermore, the use of a one-way hash-function means it has forward security. However, it is vulnerable to DoS (Denial of Service) attacks and only has one-way authentication. For the authentication protocol, the security of the mutual authentication protocol means that the reader confirms the identity of the tag and then it confirms the legality of the reader.
Zhen-Yu Wu (2013) proposed an efficiently mutual authentication scheme for RFID and put forward the authentication scheme which satisfies four characteristics: confidentiality, unforgeability, location privacy and scalability. The proposed protocol comprises three main components: the reader, the backend server, as well as the RFID tag. In the authentication process, the ‘nonce’ Nr generated by the reader is randomly sent to the tag. Then, the tag generates random values of ‘nonce’ Nt and does a calculation with a secret key of the tag that is generated by the server, the server’s secret key, the identification number of the tag, Nt and Nr, using a collision-resistant hash function. Once the result is matched, it will assume that the received message from the server is sent by a valid tag otherwise the server will reject the message and inform the reader to restart communication. The location privacy can be protected due to the random ‘nonce’. Furthermore, the calculation is based on one-time matrix multiplication and a one-time XOR operation, which will not increase the burden on the server with the increasing members of the system so that the proposal can achieve the scalability and reduce the overhead on identifying tags. According to the superiority in the authentication of RFID, this scheme can be applied to IoT in the medical field to protect the privacy of patients with its unforgeability and scalability. However, the proposal still faces some challenges to be overcome. For example, it is susceptible to illegal tracking. This is due to the tag’s secret information and ID being updated after each successful verification between the reader and tag (Sarah A. Moniem et al. 2017).
K. Fan (2014) designed a lightweight and ultra-lightweight RFID mutual authentication protocol. The integrated RFID system always contains 3 main parts, tag, reader as well as a server. Because of that the server and the reader are generally connected by a real cable which has excellent security features. However, the reader and the tag were always connected wirelessly, which was prone to attack. Limited by the low storage and low computability of RFID; Lightweight RFID Mutual Authentication Protocol with Cache, named LRMAPC, is the most suitable way for solving the privacy security problem. Moreover, this lightweight protocol will reduce the computation and transmission cost greatly. Particularly, as large numbers of tags and readers require frequent communication. In addition, LRMAPC has performed greater than expected in privacy security.
In this new protocol, the most distinctive method was that both tag and reader will generate a random number to accomplish the whole authentication process, it is important to note, that both tag and reader offered calculation and did not waste the computability of the reader. Compared with ordinary protocols like hash-lock, hash-chain, digital library protocol and the distributed challenge-response, LRMAPC has distinct advantages in privacy security protection. It will defend several attacks such as, eavesdropping, forward attacks, DoS attacks, reply attacks and spoofing as well as tracking. The LRMAPC also scored well by having excellent anonymity as well as synchronicity. As a result of that LRMAPC utilised the displacement operation, the calculation of the system was reduced, and the system was very effective. In the aspect of communication, LRMAPC only needed a factor of 2 times the communication between each part of the system. Furthermore, LRMAPC combined logic encryption and for the first time, the timestamp concept. It supplied DoS-resistance ability for LRMAPC as well. However, LRMAPC will not be a perfect solution for RFID technology and it will still have some disadvantages. For example, in this protocol synchronicity protection did not perform well and had a possibility of being attacked. Potentially, adding a flag value which is generated by tag to remind the server and the reader which session is being implemented and whether it is feasible.
Currently, RFID security authentication protocols have multiple flaws. Various ways to solve the security risks of RFID systems is to design a security mutual authentication protocol with high-security performance, low resource overhead, low cost, high efficiency and scalability; with it still being a challenging research topic.
Significance and Innovation
Improving RFID security authentication protocols is critical for the security of RFID technology. Furthermore, advanced security authentication protocols also promote the utilisation of RFID in medical systems. The new security protocol balances security functionality and resource overheads, which can achieve maximum security strength with minimum resource consumption. It is expected to address RFID security problems and expand the application of RFID technology in the medical field.
In this proposal, the lightweight RFID security mutual authentication protocol based on the hash-function is proposed. The Hash function is regarded as a satisfying function as it matches with the requirements of the RFID system such as fast operation speed and low hardware resource consumption. Various proposals on RFID security mutual authentication protocol are based on the hash function, although, with some defects. Hence, based on previous study, the new protocol adds models and time stamps, making it improve the security of RFIDs with high-security, low- cost, low resource overheads and scalability features which will accelerate the utilisation of RFID technology in the medical field.
In this section, a lightweight RFID security authentication protocol will be presented in order to solve the security problem in the IoT perception layer in the medical field. This paper will introduce the technologies, process and advantages of this new method.
1. Core technologies used in the protocol
A timestamp is a variant application of digital authentication, generally, it is a sequence of strings confirming the accurate time of specific data generation. Thus, it could be used to protect electronic documents and data from being falsified. Simply speaking, a timestamp is the time required for setting up, modifying or visiting aim at a document’s property. It is also used as an encryption language of the security authentication protocol in RFID in order to protect the anonymity in addition to improving the security of this system. Alone with the progressing of IC technology, numbers of researchers proposed and successfully realised the deployment of the clock in electronic taggers. Additionally, this time could be maintained as synchronisation with the standard time which is gathered from the trusted time service centre. YA-TRAP protocol is the earliest RFID authentication protocol employing the timestamp, based on this protocol, protocols such as O-TRAP, YA-TRAP+ as well as YA-TRAP* were put forward by some researches for enhancing security (R. Greeff et al., 2012).
(2) Hash function
The Hash function is used to map data of an arbitrary length to a domain of finite length, that is, the Hash function ‘H’ takes variable length data block ‘M’ as an input to produce a fixed length output value H =H(M), and M which is called the preimage of H. The Hash function has two characteristics, anti-collision, for two data blocks with different input lengths; it is extremely unlikely that the output value ‘h’ is the same, or for any data block with a given length, it is extremely difficult to find out the data with the same hash value. It is also Tamper-resistant, a change in one bit of a block of data can make a big difference to its output hash value. At the same time, the Hash function has the advantages of high-speed operation, high security, low hardware resource consumption, etc. which are matched with the requirements of an RFID system.
Figure 1: Process of protocol authentication
(1) The Reader broadcasts the query request signal to the Tag, and the Tag responds to the signal’s request.
(2) According to the response signal, the Reader select key which corresponds to the tag and past authentication timestamp T SP
from the list, generates the current authentication timestamp T Sc
. It then encrypts the timestamp using an encryption algorithm with past and current timestamps to obtain the ciphertext C1
(3) The Tag receives the ciphertext C and decrypts it to obtain the past authentication timestamp T SP
’ and the current authentication timestamp T Sc‘
. Comparing them with the original value of the past and current timestamp T SP
and T Sc.
If they are the same, it means that the reader is securely authenticated by the tag. Then using the hash function to calculate H1= H
) and H2=H
|| T Sc
) and send H1
back to the Reader and store H2
in a Tag. Here , TID
is the identity value of the Tag.
(4) After the Reader receives H1,
it would calculate H3= H
) and H4=H
|| T Sc
). After that it can send, H1, H3
and the ciphertext C1
to the Data Base and store H4
in the reader. Here RID
is the identity value of the Reader.
(5) When the Data Base receives the H1,H3, C1
values from the Reader, it will decrypt the ciphertext C1
and obtain the current timestamp T Sc
. It will then check the identity value list of the Reader to verify whether there is an identity value RID ‘
making H5= H
) and H5=H3.
If there is, it means that the Reader is not forged. It would also check the identity value list of the Tag to verify there is an identity value TID ‘
making H6= H
) and H6=H1.
If there is, it means that the Tag is not forged. Only if the Reader and the Tag are successfully authenticated concurrently will the data base be able to calculate H7=H
( RID ‘
|| T Sc
) and H8=H
( TID ‘
|| T Sc
) and send them to the Reader.
(6) After the Reader receives H7
, it will compare H4
. If they match, it means the database is securely authenticated by the reader. Once the authentication is completed and successful, the Reader will then send H8
to the Tag. The Tag would undergo a similar authentication process comparing H2
If they are same, it means the database is securely authenticated by the Tag, and the Tag will send a response signal to the Reader.
(7) After the Reader receives the response signal from the Tag, it will generate the completed timestamp T Sdone
and encrypt it to obtain a new ciphertext C2
, sending the new ciphertext C2
to the Tag. The Tag will then decrypt it to obtain the completed timestamp T Sdone
and update the past authentication timestamp T SP
to the completed timestamp T Sdone
The whole process of protocol authentication is as depicted in Figure 1. It can be observed that the protocol achieves tripartite mutual authentication between the Database, Reader and Tag. It avoids the security problem that RFIDs face to a large extent.
3. Process description
The process of authentication for the Tag and the Reader can be seen in Figure 2 and Figure 3.
Figure 2: Authentication process of Tag Figure 3: Authentication process of Reader
The tag is in a standby state in the range of the reader sensing field. After receiving and selecting the query signal C1 from the reader, the tag decrypts the timestamps, TSp
for C1. It then decrypts TSp and TSc and compare them with the authentication timestamp TSp which is stored by itself in the previous round. If and only if, TSp
is legal and TSc
are both established, then hashing is performed to obtain H1
, and H1 is sent to the reader. After that, H8
is calculated from the database and forwarded which will be received by the reader. The next step is to compare H8
, if the two are equal then the reader will feedback the authentication success signal and generate the authentication completion timestamp TSdone
to update its original time. Poke TSp
In the entire authentication process, the reader plays an important role in authentication in addition to transmitting data between the tag and the server. Protocol authentication is initiated by the reader first. Readers receive the H1
from the electronic tag. At the same time, the reader calculates two hash values H3
according to its own identity value and the generated timestamp, sending H1
and the encrypted timestamp C1 to the backend server and storing H4
in the reader memory. After completing a series of authentication processes in the background and receiving the hash values H7
sent by the background, the reader will compare H7
in the memory. If they are equal, the background server obtains the security authentication of the reader, otherwise, it terminates the authentication process and then sends H8
to the tag. When the tag is authenticated and responds to the reader signal, the reader generates an authentication completion timestamp and encrypts it for tag update.
For the Database, after decrypting the timestamp, the traversal calculation is performed in the storage reader and the tag list. This is to determine whether the identity value of the reader and the tag exists in the query which ensures the judgment condition is established simultaneously. It needs to consider whether the server can successfully authenticate the reader and the legality of the tag. If one party is not legal, the authentication is rejected and there will be no response; if and only if both parties are authenticated will the server authenticator pass. After that, it will calculate the hash values H7
for the reader and tag authentication, and then send it to the reader.
4. Security analysis and comparison
In this part, it will analyse the security and reliability of the protocol. To do this, it needs to analyse the protocol from the perspective of attack which is described as follows:
(1) Anti-replay attack: The attacker replays the previous message in the next communication by intercepting the information between the reader and the tag. In this paper, the timestamp TS will be introduced. The time value messages of each time are different, and the timestamp generated in the next communication is uncertain and unpredictable. If the attacker replays the previous message, due to the property of the time stamp, this attack cannot be authenticated in the first place, let alone the subsequent verification process. Therefore, this protocol can resist a replay attack.
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(2) Anti-eavesdropping attack: Due to the openness of the wireless channel, it enables the attacker to completely eavesdrop on the message content of each session. Since this data is an indeterministic timestamp of encrypted data and hash values, if an attacker obtains this information on the wireless channel, the data will be valueless to it. This will mean that it will be unable to launch the attack at the same time.
(3) Anti-forgery attack: The attacker can be disguised to be a reader to illegally access the tag or copy the tag to cheat the reader for the attack. In order to make either party believe the legitimacy of the identity of the other party, it is necessary to know the encryption and decryption algorithm passing the timestamp, as well as, the last authentication timestamp stored by the tag as well as the reader, and the mutual authentication method of the database, reader and tag. There is a close logical relationship between these three, and any slight change in the authentication conditions will result in the termination of authentication. Thus, this protocol can resist a forgery attack.
(4) Anti-tracking attack: The purpose of the attacker is to implement the tracking attack to obtain the characteristic data of the communication between the reader and the tag, as well as, deduce that different messages come from the same tag, and identify a tag among a large number of tags, so as to monitor the tag’s position. In this protocol, the identity value of the tag relates to the timestamp generated by the reader in two different ways and then transmitted through the hash function. The anti-collision performance of the hash function makes it difficult for attackers to infer the identity value of the tag after acquiring the information. At the same time, due to the introduction of the timestamp, the messages responded by the same tag in each communication process are anonymous and dynamic. These hold no significant relevance to the attacker therefore avoiding tracking attacks completely.
In this paper, a lightweight RFID security authentication protocol, which uses timestamp technology, hash function, as well as, data encryption and decryption technology to complete the two-way authentication among server, reader and tag based on certain security have been presented. The proposal is expected to be reasonable and feasible in theory. Through security and performance analysis and in comparison, with previous protocols, the proposed protocol can resist multiple attack modes and consume fewer resources.
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ICTs) have continued to be a major factor that is catapulting modern society to a high technology one. With cutting edge and far-reaching developments in science and technology in the late twentieth century, Ipad, ipods, new video games, cellular phones, electronic banking, and satellite television are just a few of the ICT innovations that have taken our modern life by storm.
The Information and Communication Technologies in this study is operationalised to mean the new media technologies, including satellites, telephony, the Internet, the Global System of Mobile Communication (GSM), other components of computer- assisted reporting and multimedia systems. These are new improved technological facilities that facilitate the creation, storage, management and dissemination of information by electronic means.
No doubt, this wave of new media technologies within the fabric of today’s globalised village has continued to pressure everyone to adopt ICTs as the whole world is being shrunk into one small entity and computing, telecommunications, broadcast and print media continue to converge on common digital-based techniques.
Since the great inroad of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) into the global scene at the dawn of the 21st century, significant changes have been recorded in the way man does things. In virtually every profession, the traces of the ICTs are clear, bringing radical changes and improvement. Specifically, media practice the world over has witnessed a great change; and traditional journalism has been replaced with ‘hi-tech journalism’ (Obe 2008).
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The use of the facilities of the New Information and Communication Technologies has given birth to the components of Computer-Assisted Reporting (CAR) which are commercial online databases, CD-ROM, Electronic Bulletin Boards (BBS), Electronic morgue, in-house topical databases, electronic public records and the Internet (Davenport et al, 1996). Besides, the use of ICTs facilities to disseminate news and information at jet speed, as in Electronic News Gathering (ENG) and Satellite News Gathering (SNG), have really taken journalism practice by storm. Evidences suggest that in no distant time, virtually every practice of the media will be carried out with the use of ICTs. Very soon, if not now, media practitioners will have no other option than to search the web, use e-mail attachments, navigate newsgroup, setting up list servers, downloading of web files and analysis of databases and so on.
With these new communication technologies, interpersonal communication has been greatly improved upon with facilities like fax machines, communication satellites, e-mails, personal digital assistants, cellular phones and the Internet. These days, everybody is within the reach of everybody else. The emergence of the computer and its interlinked network – the Internet, has ushered in a new opportunity for the ICTs-induced communication. The real motive behind the communication is to create a virtual global village where information flow cannot be disrupted. When ICTs are fully adopted and used, the socio-economic and developmental lives of the people will be greatly enhanced.
The aim of this paper is to track the adoption and use of ICTs by media professionals in Nigeria.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Most developing nations of the world are confronted with socio-economic problems ranging from poverty to corruption with no solution in sight. The assumption is that one of the safest routes to escape from the problem is for most developing nations of the world to adopt and use Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). That is why most developing nations are trying to subscribe to the modern day ‘developmental magic’ with a view to transforming their societies for good.
The argument as to whether Africa can actually utilize ICTs for her development in the face of the prevailing circumstances is gaining robust dimension. In their UNESCO-sponsored pilot study on adoption of ICTs in Africa and Asia-Pacific, Obijiofor et al submit:
In Africa, ignorance is far more major obstacles and those aware, mostly the educated and literate people in the private sector, say as much as they appreciate the need and importance of ICTs, the economic situation in their countries and general poverty make it difficult for people who need these ICTs to acquire them. In Ghana, for example, the per capital income is US$400 and the average cost of a computer (plus modem and telephone line etc) is US$1500. Also in Nigeria, to acquire a computer/modem, ISP subscription and telephone line would require the total annual income of a graduate.
Considering the above statement by Obijiofor et al, there is arguably a concern over the general poverty mentality on the part of media professionals which could tend to make them see acquisition of computers as luxury and as status symbols or statement of one’s hierarchy in society, as such, consider purchasing ICTs as purchasing a diamond or gold. For instance, a longitudinal study aimed at tracking the adoption of computer-based information sources by Nigerian newspapers conducted in 2004 reveals that ‘there is a zero or near-zero use of most of the components of computer-assisted reporting (CAR). For example, no Nigerian newspaper is currently using electronic morgue and electronic public records. There is also very little use of CD-ROMs and commercial online databases (Okoye, 2004). This however calls for a serious concern on whether the journalists can appreciably use ICTs to really deliver developmental and investigative journalism required to sanitise the society. Hence, the study sought to address this concern by examining how media professionals use ICTs to deliver their task.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The specific objectives of the study are:
To track the level of adoption of ICTs by media professionals in Nigeria
To determine specific ICTs tools that is in use among Nigerian media professionals.
To determine the challenges surrounding the adoption and use of ICTs by Nigerian media professionals.
SCOPE OF STUDY
The study narrows down to media professionals working with selected media organizations in Lagos, Nigeria as respondents. The study location is adopted because there is a high concentration of media professionals and their organizations in Lagos, the nerve centre of the Nigerian Press. Besides, Lagos is today regarded as the city with the most developed, vibrant and dynamic media industry in Africa (BBC poll).
The media professionals include staff of major ICTs-driven print media (Newspapers and magazines) organizations that are registered by Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN) and the broadcast media outfits licensed by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC). The media professionals in each of the media organisations are the reporters at all levels (including freelancers), editors, newscasters, studio engineers and prepress staff. The respondents were limited to these categories because those are the people believed to be leading in media technology in Nigeria media industry.
Two research hypotheses were raised for this research.
Research Hypothesis 1
H1: There is an inverse relationship between the cost of acquisition of ICTs and adoption and use of ICTs by media professionals in Nigeria.
Research Hypothesis 2
H1: Use of specific communication strategies is dependent on the income level of media professionals in Nigeria.
Brief Review of Literature
Previous studies on the rate of adoption and use of communication technologies in Africa had been slow and gradual and couldn’t match up with the sporadic rate of adoption of ICTs which was unprecedented in world history. For instance, it took radio thirty-eight years; television took thirteen years, while cable took ten years to hit the mass medium status, whereas it took the Internet only six years to reach the fifty million users mark (Kaye and Medoff, 2001).
In Nigeria, it did not take up to three years for the Global System of Mobile Communication (GSM) to hit appreciable number of adopters and users. The universal adoption of Internet is revealed through universal access data in various countries in the region. Topping the list of countries with high internet access are Korea 56% and Singapore (44%). In the median section are Malaysia with 14% and Brunei Darussalam (11%). Further down the line are Philippines (6%), Thailand (4%), and Indonesia (1%). Countries like Cambodia and Myanmar are at the bottom of the heap with less than 1% Internet diffusion. Among countries in the Caucuses and Central Asia, the internet is primarily accessible in the largest urban centres and technical services and support are often slow and expensive (Asian Women’s Resource Exchange 2001: 36).
A concept that was employed in this study is Technological Determinism which assumes that changes in communication technology inevitably produce profound changes in both culture and social order. The concept holds further that technology inevitably causes specific changes in how people think, in how society is structured, and in forms of culture that are created. Marshall McLuhan who is a chief proponent of this concept staunchly believes that all social, political, economic and cultural change is inevitably based on the development and diffusion of technology. These and many other theories related to the work shall be fully explored in the main report.
The concept of critical mass theory as it applies to the adoption of new communication technologies is desirable and would be used. The term comes from physics, where critical mass refers to the minimum amount of material needed to trigger and sustain a radioactive chain reaction. The term has been loosely applied to communication and refers to the minimum number of people needed as adopters before a new communication technology can have a permanent place in the society (Kaye and Medoff, 2001).
Williams, Strover and Grant (1994) corroborate:
An interesting aspect of the critical mass perspective is that widespread use appears to have a snowball effect. Once a perceived critical mass is using the technology, those without it are strongly motivated to adopt it. The reasoning here is that despite the drawbacks, such as cost or difficulty in using the technology, people (and institutions) are pressured to adopt the technology because failure to do so may exclude them from existing communication networks (p34).
Before any medium can be considered a mass medium, a critical mass of adopters must be reached. Generally, critical mass is achieved when about 16 percent of the entire population has adopted an innovation, although in the case of mass media, fifty million users seem to be the milestone (Markus,1990; Neufeld, 1997 cited in Kaye and Medoff, 2001).
Researches have shown that the rate of radio adoption crawled along for thirty-eight years before hitting the magic fifty million users; television took thirteen years, while cable took ten years to hit this mass medium status. In less than six years of its existence as a consumer medium, Internet has reached the fifty million users mark. Between 1995 and 1997, the estimated number of US online users ranged from 51 million to about 58 million. (“About One in Four Adults,” 1996; American Internet User Survey, 1997; CommerceNet and Nielsen Research, 1995; “GVU’s seventh www user survey, 1997; Hoffman, Kalsbeek, and Novak, 1996a; McGarvey, 1996; MIDS, 1995; O’Reiley Survey Sets,” 1995; Taylor, 1997).
In 1998 and 1999, between 57 million and 64 million people in the United States used the Internet (Decotis, 1999; “Relevant Knowledge Rank the Sites”, 1998). In 1999, Jupiter Communications claimed that in the United States alone, there were as many as 90 million Internet users (Guglielmo, 1999). The Computer Industry Almanac claims that the use has topped 100 million people – 40 percent of the population (“US tops,” 1999). More alarming is the Data monitor’s claim that by year 2003 about 545 million Internet users will be around the world (“Data monitor: 545 users,” 1999).
The BBC has greatly adopted the new media technology in its operations. Its new media division, the BBC online, has become one of the UK’s most popular website, with over 190 million page impression requests per month. Besides, it has also introduced the BBCi meaning, the BBC interactive that takes in computers and interactive digital television across Sky, ITV Digital and the cable companies. CNN and other leading broadcast stations in the world are following.
Various arguments have been advanced for and against the adoption of ICTs. Stevenson, Burkett and Myint (1993) argue that the new communication and information technologies can strengthen the centralized, industrial, command economy or decentralize empowerment for finding creative solutions to local and global problems through new social technologies. Other pro ICTs scholars point out that new technologies lead to speedier, more accurate, and improved outcomes that increase our capabilities and make us more efficacious (Dickson, 1974; Florman, 1981)
In terms of the Internet, we are able to communicate far more effectively, with more people and in more ways, than before (Rowland, 1997). The advancement in the production and availability of sexual material can be viewed as a function of technological advancement (Durkin & Bryant, 1995; Lane, 2000). It is arguable that all media technologies, from print to the Internet, have been used for sexual purposes (Noonan, 1998).
In their argument against ICTs, Inayatullah insists that ICT causes further cultural impoverishment by continuing the one-way communication between North and South and much more that ICTs create information based economy and not a communicative society (Inayatullah, 1999). Lerner and Schramm (1976) throw more weight:
Throughout the less developed regions, people have been led to want more than they can get. This can be attributed in part to the spread of the mass media, which inevitably show and tell people about the good things of life that are available elsewhereâ€¦As people in the poor countries were being shown and told about ‘goodies’ available in developed countries, they were also being taught about their own inferiorityâ€¦at least in terms of wealth and well-being. Recognition of the disparities between the rich and poor countries produced among some a sense of aggressiveness. Both apathy and aggression usually are counter-productive to genuine development efforts (Lerner and Schramm, 1976:341-342)
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METHOD OF RESEARCH
This study employed survey research method. This involves design of questionnaires which were administered to the respondents. Pertinent questions that bother on the adoption and usage of ICT constitute the bulk of the questionnaire design. The methodological procedure established includes the study population, sample size, the sampling procedures, the research instruments, the data collection exercise, problems of data collection, data preparation and entry as well as the analytical techniques adopted.
The study population comprises media professionals working with selected media organizations in Lagos. The media professionals are mostly journalists believed to be using ICTs to enhance their work. The media professionals fielded questions on their adoption and usage of ICTs tools. The media professionals include staff of major ICTs-driven print media (Newspapers and magazines) organizations that are registered by Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN) and the broadcast media recognized and licensed by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC). The media professionals in each of the media organisations are the reporters at all levels (including freelancers), editors, newscasters, studio engineers and prepress staff. The respondents were limited to these categories because those are the people who use ICTs facilities in the media industry.
The simple random sampling technique was used to select the required media organisations for the study. Within the selected media organizations, the simple random sampling technique was equally used to select respondents within the media organizations under study. This was desirable as it rules out bias and subjectivity in the choice of respondents.
As at the time of conducting this study, 47 print media organisations were registered by Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN) and out of the 47, only 18 Lagos-based print media houses weer still in circulation. Out of the 18 functioning, six print media organisations were selected for this study. The selected six media houses consist of four newspapers and two magazines (for the print media). Out of the existing broadcast stations licensed by NBC, four were selected which consist of two television stations and two radio stations. This made the total number of media organizations studied to be ten in number.
The print media organizations selected are: Punch Nigeria Limited (publisher of the Punch Titles); Leaders and Company Limited. (Publisher of ThisDay Titles); The Sun Publishing Limited (Publisher of The Sun Newspaper); Financial Standard newspaper; Independent Communications Network Limited (Publisher of TheNEWS magazine and Newswactch Communication Limited (Publisher of Newswatch magazine). In the broadcast media, the four media stations selected are African Independent Television, Lagos (AIT) and Nigerian Television Authority, Lagos (NTA Channel 10) (Television) and Raypower 100.5 FM, Lagos and FRCN, Lagos (Radio Nigeria).
Among the ten media organizations selected for this study, 200 communication professionals were chosen as respondents. The 200 consists of twenty respondents from each of the ten media organisations. Some of the media organizations studied do not have up to two hundred journalists, except for NTA and FRCN which are government owned. Nevertheless, it was estimated that 20 of the existing number of journalists in each of the organizations should be representative enough for generalization to be drawn.
The main instrument for this research is the questionnaire. The questionnaires were designed using both the open-ended and closed-ended approaches. The first section of the two questionnaire schedules contained questions on respondents’ background, socio-economic and other demographic characteristics. These include questions on respondents’ sex, age, marital status, monthly income, educational attainment of respondents.
The second section of the questionnaire dealt with information on adoption and use of ICTs. Respondents were asked to state their area of media practice and name of their media organizations and the department of the media organization in which they work. Specific questions about the time of their adoption of ICTs and that of their media organizations were raised. The questionnaire equally sought to know what specific ICTs tools are commonly or easily in use by the media professionals. The second section also probed into the adoption of the components of computer-assisted reporting. It used likert-like scale to really ascertain the degree of their adoption and use. The section of the questionnaire did not stop there, it tested the adoption of database journalism as well as the practice of computer-assisted investigative reporting.
The questionnaire also probed into the economic aspect of ICTs, where questions that link cost and other economic considerations to the use and adoption were raised.
VALIDATION OF RESEARCH INSTRUMENTS
As a way of validating the instruments used for this research, face validity check was carried out by two senior university academics. Besides, a pilot study was conducted by the researcher in 2007. The pilot study aimed at tracking the adoption and use of ICTs by media professionals in Nigeria. The study was a follow up to an initial study conducted by Okoye (2004) at the University of Lagos. The success of the pilot study is an indication that the research instrument was tested with positive results.
A study of this magnitude cannot be completed without challenges, especially during data collection. The first problem was created by the corporate affairs manager of Daar Communications Plc, owner of AIT/Raypower who ordered the security operatives to usher the researcher out of the premises when the researcher had started administering the questionnaire copies to AIT staff before realizing that such must first pass through the corporate affairs manager for scrutiny. The manager’s seemingly rude approach at correcting visitors annoyed the researcher which led to minor altercations. This was later settled, but the researcher had to drop copies of the questionnaire to come back for it three days later, thereby making the wait-and-get approach unworkable in AIT.
One major problem is the lackadaisical attitudes of media professionals towards academic research. Most of them claimed they were very busy to attend to us while others complained that the items on the questionnaire design are too many to answer. Some of them would ask us to wait till he finishes his report which could take an hour or two.
There were instances of refusals, especially when the receptionist had to confirm the willingness of the respondents. The ‘brown envelope’ mentality of the press was equally expressed here, although with few journalists when they openly requested for gratification or bottle of coke before filling the copies of questionnaire. Since this was anticipated by the researcher during the training, the field assistants were asked to use their initiatives and parley the respondents by creating much needed rapport. This eventually yielded positive efforts.
Another major problem encountered is that few of the respondents, especially the senior staff had the propensity to lie about their adoption and use of ICTs for one major reason: they want to impress the researcher that their organization is standard and ICT-compliant, so in cases where they have not adopted a particular component of ICTs, they tend to say they have. The researcher and field assistants overcame this problem by demanding to see and probably take a photo shot of such facilities ‘for the archive’. For instance, in Punch, the Chief Librarian claimed they have adopted electronic morgue but when the researcher requested to see it and take a photo shot, she mellowed down and said their electronic morgue is still under construction.
Data Preparation and Data Entry
Having returned the survey data from the field, the data were carefully edited by the researcher himself to ensure completeness, legibility, clarity and consistency. After these internal checks, a total of 172 copies of the questionnaire were adjudged usable for analysis out of the 181 that were completed and returned. After this, data were entered and the statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) was used for programming and analysis after the data entry. The SPSS and data entry were done by a database administrator with the assistance of the researcher.
Discussions of Findings
The data elicited from media professionals show that there are more male media professionals than their female folks as respondents in the research work and that majority of the respondents are young persons who are within the age range of 30-49 years. Besides, there is preponderance for married persons. Majority of the respondents have first degree/higher diploma as highest academic qualifications. The monthly salary of most of the media professionals falls between the range of N10,000 and N39,999. This shows most media professionals in Nigeria earn below N40,000.
Most media organizations in Nigeria adopted the tools of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in their operations between 1999 – 2000 and 2001-2005. This period coincided with the time Punch newspaper house sacked all its photographers and abolished the use of film development process in the production of photographs. Instead, they adopted the use of digital camera which no longer requires the use of tedious traditional dark room film development processes.
Of all the tools of ICTs available to media professionals, the Internet was mostly in use. In other words, the respondents use Internet more than any other tools. This confirms the findings of the pilot study conducted to validate the questionnaire for this study which revealed that out of the tools of ICTs, the Internet has the highest adopters.
The respondents are however, divided about the description of their current state of adoption and use of ICTs. While some indicated that the current state of adoption and use among them is high, another good numbers do not share the ‘high’ belief but rather describe the adoption and use as moderate.
From the data gathered, the greatest challenge militating against the use of ICTs by media professionals in Nigeria is the cost of acquiring the facilities. This was followed by lack of base infrastructure like electricity. Only very few attributed why they do not use ICTs to unfavourable government policies. More importantly, majority of the respondents hold that the cost of acquiring ICTs tools is high. Although, respondents gave different opinions on cost of ICTs , but what remains clear is that there is a preponderance for respondents who see the cost of acquiring ICTs as being on the high side.
Another important finding is that the income level of the respondent is a barrier to their acquisition of ICTs, The data had earlier established the fact that a greater portion of the respondents earn between N10,000 and N39,999 monthly. However, the bulk of the respondents opined that the benefits inherent in the use of ICTs are enormous.
The data reveal that very appreciable number of the respondents are quite aware of Electronic Newsgathering and Satellite newsgathering (ENG and SNG), Very few numbers of the respondents unaware of ENG and SNG. The respondents are again divided on their level of agreement of the fact that ENG and SNG are needed in every contemporary media organization. Very many of them ‘strongly agree’ while only few ‘strongly disagree’. Highest percentage of the respondents equally opined that ENG and SNG are the best in performing news gathering functions. In the same vein, the respondents indicated that ENG and SNG have done the following good to media organizations: betterment of broadcast production quality; great improvement in broadcast media practice in Nigeria; attraction of more audience to media organizations; positive change in the news processing and techniques. To cap it all, most of the respondents indicated that the benefits derived from ENG and SNG outweighs the challenges therein.
Summary of findings and Conclusion
Most media organizations in Nigeria adopted the tools of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in their operations at the dawn of the millennium and of all the tools of ICTs available to media professionals, the Internet was mostly in use.
Data showed that the monthly salary of most of the media professionals falls between the range of N10,000 and N39,999. This means that most media professionals in Nigeria earn less than N40,000; the average income is N25,000 (£130). The media professionals were mostly reporters, newscasters and prepress staff, a handful were editors and top management staff.
The greatest challenge against the use of ICTs by media professionals in Nigeria is the cost of acquiring the facilities. This is compounded by lack of base infrastructure like electricity. Only very few attributed why they do not use ICTs to unfavourable government policies. More importantly, majority of the respondents held that the cost of acquiring ICTs tools is high.
This study concludes that the adoption of ICTs by Nigerian media professionals is relatively low, though its use is noticeable but relatively insufficient. It is low and insufficient because there are prevailing circumstances militating against the adoption and use of ICTs by media professionals. One of the most fundamental challenges that media professionals are being faced with is the cost and affordability of ICTs tools. The research is of a strong conclusion that the income level of the media professionals could not match the cost of acquisition of ICTs. This means that what the media professionals earn as income cannot enable them to afford buying ICTs tools without sweat. In contemporary Nigeria, to buy a digital camera, computer laptop, with modem and payment for Internet subscriptions costs around two hundred and fifty thousand naira (£1000) depending on the sophistication and configuration of the ICTs tools. With the average monthly income of media professionals put at Twenty five thousand naira (£120) monthly and three hundred thousand naira (£1200) annually, one could infer that it takes close to the total annual income of media professionals in Nigeria to buy a digital camera, computer laptop, with modem and payment for annual Internet subscriptions.
This research is in agreement with a UNESCO-sponsored research on impact of ICTs on Socio-economic development of Africa and Asia Pacific where it was found out that it takes the total annual income of a graduate in Ghana, to be a computer-assisted journalist (Obijiofor et al 1999). The case among freelance journalists who do not receive specific salary and live on ‘brown envelope’ is even worst as they survive on gratification offered by newsmakers. The implication of this is that journalists who should be maximizing the benefits inherent in ICTs do not see computers as useful compared with vehicle or calculator. In other words, these journalists see computers as luxury tools that could only be acquired when one is economically comfortable. To them, it is a question of scale of preference: if you have to feed and if you have to think of having a computer laptop, you will want to feed first, because if you don’t feed, you are not likely to survive.
Another challenge to the use of ICTs is the non-availabilty of Infrastructural support and one of the infrastructural facilities that constitute a barrier is inadequate supply of electricity/power. In Nigeria, the power generating authorities have been changing their names from NEPA to PHCN. When the name was NEPA, Nigerians, out of frustration gave their own coinage of NEPA as ‘Never Expect Power Always’ as against the official name of ‘National Electric Power Authority’. As it is, most telecommunications base stations run on generators because electricity is a very scarce commodity in Nigeria. This hampers smooth telecommunication networks. Most places in Lagos do not have electricity for a week or more, and when there is, the supply comes in an interrupted way. This makes one to be switching from NEPA to generator which resultantly could damage the computer system and hampers the server and Internet network connections.
Supporting this position of electricity challenge are Baffour Kojo, Asiedu and Lu, Song Feng (2003) in their work published in the Pakistan Journal of Information and Technology and titled Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), Internet as a Tool in the Developing World, Challenges and the Way Forward submit:
The main problem with an e-mail system for most of the developing world (and much of Africa) is the unreliability of electricity and telephone lines, which are often out of order for days on end. Even when they are workin