In an increasingly global market, people everywhere are moving freely across borders and around the globe at a rapid rate. In 2012, the number of people traveling internationally for business and pleasure broke the one billion mark. Another all-time high was set in 2013, and we’re on pace to break that record again.

In the past decade, technology advancements have transformed consumer expectations. Our new “instant society” empowers consumers with extreme convenience and anytime, anywhere access. People expect no less as they migrate, visit emerging countries and travel for business or personal pleasure. These heightened expectations extend to all of their increasing interactions with their governments “” from crossing borders, to voting, to accessing public services.

Striving to meet these expectations, government agencies face new levels of complexity and because of this; the need for secure identities is at an all-time high.  In addition, managing the movement of a billion people across the world’s borders has exponentially increased the need for new security features.

New strategies for addressing these challenges are centered on three types of identity documents:

  • Passports: The passport remains the de facto form of identification for international travel, and there is no indication that this will change anytime soon. However, led by European nations, we’re seeing a global shift to ePassports, with approximately 120 countries now issuing these more-secure documents and 81% of new passports issued now including a smart chip.
  • National ID/Driver’s Licenses: National IDs are following a similar trend, with experts forecasting that by 2015, the majority of the world’s nations will be issuing eIDs. Already, more than 62% of national IDs issued include some form of biometrics and continued innovation will expand the capabilities by utilizing other technologies including NFC and other contactless interfaces.
  • Mobile Credentials: As the applications of mobile technology grow more diverse, mobile credentials are a new frontier with great promise. Development of sophisticated mobile credentials that can be used to grant both physical and logical access to secure environments is on the rise. It is certainly feasible to expect that we may soon see the adoption of mobile credentials as an acceptable form of identification for travel within the borders of a country “”around the U.S. or across Canada, for example.

When thinking about securing these types of identity documents, it’s important to avoid the tendency to focus on just the security of the end-user credential and/or document. Governments can take steps today that will help mitigate the risk of fraud and false identification. These include:

  • Trusted Identity: Securely bind the physical identity credential to the identity profile of the individual. The identity profile should have a number of identity attributes associated with it including biometrics, biographic information and other documents to help establish identity. This is a critical resource that can help safeguard borders and travel “” when properly used “” to assess and verify passengers.
  • Ongoing Training for Field Officers/Agents: Border control officers are the first line of defense in evaluating the identity of travelers, both arriving and departing. Their ongoing education on physical and digital document security, as well as imposter detection is one of the most effective ways fraudulent documents are identified and potential security risks are exposed.
  • Outbound Validation: Proper electronic validation “” of both incoming and outgoing passengers “” provides high assurance of the integrity and authenticity of the document and allows complete, closed-loop tracking of travelers, significantly mitigating the threat of forgery.
  • Physical Security of Documents: The physical security features of these documents are essential to validation. Variable security features added during the personalization process make fraud more difficult, requiring not only the raw materials, but access to, and understanding of, these personalization technologies.

These emerging trends are all promising new ways of providing citizens with secure credentials that enable efficient and convenient travel. But, let’s not forget the key element of looking at the entire ecosystem. When governments start looking at the entire program “” from enrollment and issuance to management and validation, it tends to become more difficult to ensure all pieces work together to create a secure environment.

Ensuring end-to-end security  means building a trust infrastructure that combines physical, electronic and digital security features to support the entire identity lifecycle “” from citizen enrollment and credential issuance, to managing physical as well as digital credentials like PKI and digital certificates, to authenticating identities and validating access and interactions “” all while intelligently identifying suspicious and fraudulent activity.

By leveraging the end-to-end security of a trust infrastructure, today’s governments can effectively combat the growing threats to identity documentation. But more importantly, they can answer the heightened expectations of their citizens “” offering greater convenience and easier travel “” while enhancing efficiency and minimizing costs. To read more on travel and border control technologies, click here.

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