The concept of e-passports is not new. This concept has been implemented in the US passport since a long time. Basically e-passports are passports, which are technologically highly advanced. These passports have small chips integrated with the blue book in which traveler information is stored excellently. The chip also contains cryptographic hashes. These are needed for verification that the passport has not been tampered with or forged. If you are looking to seek entry into the US and coming from countries, which feature in the visa-waiver list, this has been made more than mandatory for more than 10 years now.
Though the thing sounds quite easy and simple, it is not so actually. For reading the e-passports, special measures are needed. At the various ports of entry, there are card readers installed. This helps the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in reading and deciphering the information in the e-passport. The main reason why this step was needed is because after the terrorist attack of 9/11, USA needed an e-passport global adoption measure. However, it has been seen that many CBP agents do not have the software which is needed for discerning if the information provided on those high-tech e-passports is machine-readable or not.
Two US senators revealed an amazing fact few days back. As per their information, the CBP is well aware that it is unable to authenticate the data, which is stored in the US e-passport chips since almost 2010 or may be even before that. In those times, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) had released a detailed report regarding the features and advantages of an e-passport. The security features that have been integrated in the chips in the e-passport make the document extremely safe and secured. The cryptographic signature needs special mention in this regard. The signature was designed in such a manner that it would be difficult or nearly impossible for forging a travel document or steal an individual’s identity.
It was in last week that the news of the security failing of US e-passports came into limelight. This happened when two senators namely Claire McCaskill and Ron Wyden sent a letter which demanded that the CBP starts using the anti-tamper and anti-forgery feature in e-passports immediately. The letter was addressed and sent to Kevin K McAleenan, who is the CBP acting commissioner. Though e-passport readers are there at almost all the ports of entry, it has been seen that the CBP agents do not have the right kind of software needed for authenticating the information, which is stored in the chip, which is integrated to the e-passport. Also, there is inability on the part of the CBP for verifying the digital signatures, which are there in the chip in the e-passport. As a result, it cannot be understood by any means whether the data which is stored in the chip has been forged or tampered with.
In the current situation, reading the information on the e-passport amounts to just security theater, as there is no authentic verification of the data here. Cryptography experts come up with interesting data in this regard. They say that if one has a passport from a visa waiver country and his passport is inspected at the port of entry, the agent will only be able to see an image and traveler information from the chip in the e-passport. But this data might be completely fake, because the digital signature on the e-chip has no verification.
The senators also mentioned in their letter that after the GAO report, it is high time that the CBP utilizes the digital security features which have been built in the e-passports. The CBP has been given time till 1st January 2019 for two things. The first is working with experts on the subject matter at the General Services Administration for figuring out exactly the costing of setting up of technology, which can validate the digital signatures in the US e-passports. Secondly and more importantly, making this initiative and step happen in real and be successful.
Until the technology is up and running, the border staff will not be able to provide reasonable assurance that the data which is present in the computer chip in the e-passport has been counterfeited or not or has been fraudulently altered or not. General people can seek detailed information on such stuff on contacting a reliable and authentic Los Angeles passport agency. Along with dealing with various kinds of passport issues, these agencies can also provide great information and news on US passports.
Thepassportoffice.com – one of the best passport agencies in Los Angeles
Passport has become an important document one needs to have in today’s world. This is the reason that even new born kids are getting passport done. It is not only a document that allows international travel, but a document which acts as identity proof and nationality proof. In USA, the State Department issues the passport after proper verification of the candidate and in support of the filled up application form and attached documents.
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