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Contactless tech toughens passport integrity

Posted: 01 Oct 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:contactless security controller? smart chip? electronic passport technology?

Under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), any passport issued on or after October 26, 2006, must be an ePassport for VWP travelers entering the United States without a visa. This ePassportan electronic travel document with an integrated contactless security controller that holds the same information printed on the passport data pagemust comply with the International Civil Aviation Organization standards body, which also dictates the security levels and biometric data to be stored on the security controller.

With the VWP as the main driver of ePassport implementation, as of November last year, around 33 countries have issued or started issuing ePassports. There have also been much public discussions about the security of contactless controllers for the ePassport.

There exist in the market three main classes of "contactless" chips: "pure" RFID chips, standard MCUs and contactless security controllers. Only properly designed contactless security controllers are able to meet the high requirements for data security and privacy protection needed in the ePassport sector. The pure RFID chips are used mainly for object identification and do not contain an MCU. Therefore, their functionality and security is limited to an extent that is reasonable for the applications they are used for. Standard MCUs, equipped with an appropriate RF interface, can be used for non-security contactless applications but are also not suitable for personal identification documents.

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