Sunday, September 26, 2010

Potential Risk of Identify Theft with e-Passport

With the change of entry requirement after 9/11 terrorist attack in the United States, countries around the world are now required to issue e-Passports, ie. a passport with a microchip embedded in the passport, which holds your biometric information.  The intention of this move is to provide added security to all countries, and make it more difficult to use a fake passport to travel.

However, this strategy has an unintended side-effect.  Identity theft actually has gone up after the e-Passports are issued.  Why?  e-Passports has this microchip embedded.  To read the biometric information from your passport, RFID technology has been employed.  RFID, means the information is transmitted through RF frequency, and the information can be captured by the reader.  Here is the problem.  If only the government agencies have the technology to make the reader, and can use the reader, probably it is still ok, but actually everyone who knows the technology can produce a reader.  Someone with the reader can just go near you, can he/she can then collect personal identify information from your passport!

Is it something difficult to achieve that?  The answer is YES.  Not anyone on the street can do that.  The RFID has other forms of security measures, such as data encryption.  But can it be done?  YES.  Nothing in this world is really safe.

How to prevent others from getting information from your e-Passport without your knowledge?  The solution is actually very easy.  RFID works with RF transmission.  To block it, just put your passport in a metal container, like the old-style cigarette box, then it will do.  Or you can get yourself a metal passport holder like the one being offered from PacSafe.

New technology solves some problems but brings new problems too.  Problem-solving is a never-ending process :)

No comments:

Post a Comment