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 elements to help keep thieves and frauds away from your information. Something new is about to be added to that list: passports.

The Department of Homeland Security now requires all travelers who enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Program and have a passport issued on or before October 26, 2006 to use an e-passport. E-passports are quickly being adopted by countries all over the world because of the advanced level of security they offer. Each e-passport contains an electronic chip that has all of the information found on a traditional passport, as well as a biometric identifier. In the U.S., the chip must hold a photograph of the passport’s owner. The digital photograph is used to recognize minute details about the person using it, ensuring that the user doesn’t just look similar but truly is the person he or she claims to be, down to the last freckle.

Entrust Passport imageE-passports include biometric security elements to improve data protection and decrease fraud.

E-passports making strides in international security

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.

One of the elements that make e-passports so secure is that companies like Entrust offer Public Key Infrastructure technology to protect the sensitive data contained within passports. Entrust provides a variety of authentication solutions to keep electronic, machine readable documents secure so travelers can feel at ease.

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