e-Passport
Challenges

As cybersecurity researchers and law enforcement agencies alike have been working to invent new ways to prevent cybercrime and identity theft, myriad new technologies have been created to try and combat the problem.

But recently, one has started to rise above the rest. Biometrics are not a new concept, but until recently remained within the domain of top secret spy movies and major corporations protecting billion dollar assets.

Now, PCs, ATM cards and cellphones all offer biometric security elementsto help keep thieves and frauds away from your information. Something new is about to be added to that list: passports.

Solution

E-passports are quickly being adopted by countries all over the world because of the advanced level of security they offer. Every ePassport contains an embedded electronic chip that stores the holder’s photo and personal information found in the passport data page. ePassports use Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) technology that prevents the information stored on the chip from being altered.

In addition, the ePassport chip stores a country specific digital security feature, known as a digital signature, which is derived from the country’s security certificates i.e. Document Signer Certificates (DSC) and Country Signing Certificate (CSCA). These digital signatures are unique to each passport and country and can be verified using the public key certificates of the issuing country.

When the ePassport is scanned and the chip data is read, its authenticated digital signature tells border authorities that the data on the chip is authentic, that it was issued and signed by the given country and that it has not been tampered with.

Benefits

While the e-passports may not seem that different from regular passports, they have a some very important benefits to offer, according to DHS:

  • Securely identify the traveler: The biometric element of the passport serves not only to help airport security officials, but the person who owns the passport as well. By being able to identify precisely what makes each passport holder unique, identity theft and fraud will be dramatically reduced.
  • Improved airport security process: With the enhanced security precautions offered by e-passports, the check-in and screening process while flying will be made much simpler and convenient. There is a smaller chance of fraud and less work will be required to ensure the person using the passport is the same as in the picture.
  • Better protection: The electronic chips embedded within e-passports offer digital signatures that are unique to the issuing government. This makes it possible for officials to detect if anyone has tried to change or tamper with the information within.