Feeds

Germany rolls out ePassport II - it's fingerprinting good!

Enhanced security is 'tamper proof'

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

Germany is switching over to the second generation of ePassport passports, with the addition of fingerprint biometrics. Fingerprints become mandatory in June 2009*, and according to NXP, which supplies the chips for the passports, it will be the first country in the world "to introduce second-generation ePassports with enhanced security."

That qualifier is, we suspect, significant and worth considering with reference to any fingerprint-bearing passport that shipped earlier than the German version, which starts moving as of today.

The SmartMX chip in the new German ePassports supports Extended Access Control (EAC), which uses enhanced levels of security to protect the on-chip biometrics, on the basis that fingerprints are deemed more 'private' than face. And on top of that, widespread escape of fingerprints could create a pretty mess in the wonderful biometric world of the future, but the ePassport evangelists tend not to stress that point. The German system uses encryption to protect the biometric data as it's communicated to the reader and, according to the German Interior Ministry, "achieves a security level which experts consider tamper-proof also in the future."

EAC also allows passport reading rights to be restricted to authorised readers, and can withhold access to the fingerprint data if the device isn't authorised to read them (which would likely be the case for non-German passport readers that were still on generation one).

The extent to which the security of second generation ePassports can be preserved has, obviously, yet to be determined. As the German version roll out, a substantial installed base of them will swiftly build up, and there will be a lot of authorised readers around - Germany has already taken delivery of 18,000 fingerprint readers. The first generation of ePassport was, as has been demonstrated several times, fairly easy to read. The second may indeed be tamper-proof, but how secure will the readers be, in Germany and, soon, in other countries?

NXP, founded by Philips, claims involvement in over 80 per cent of all ePassport schemes and has shipped over 100 million chips so far. ®

* Where the UK's at Do you really want to hear this again? The UK, as a non-Schengen country, is not bound by the EU decision to add fingerprints to passports. The UK has in fact already met ICAO's biometric passport requirement with the ones it's now shipping. But it's pressing ahead with huge databases, ID schemes and fingerprints in passports anyway, while shouting 'ICAO made us do it! It's the EU standard! It's really cheap, really.' You might consider the possibility that we only didn't sign up to Schengen so that we could concentrate on implementing the most aggravating and repressive parts of it, while not bothering with the kids stuff.

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
Uber, Lyft and cutting corners: The true face of the Sharing Economy
Casual labour and tired ideas = not really web-tastic
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
Felony charges? Harsh! Alleged Anon hackers plead guilty to misdemeanours
US judge questions harsh sentence sought by prosecutors
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
Apple tried to get a ban on Galaxy, judge said: NO, NO, NO
Judge Koh refuses Samsung ban for the third time
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.