Double Trouble

Why protecting your identity is a priority.

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By Joon Knapen
I read a story recently about a BBC journalist in Africa who was the victim of an imposter that had taken to posing as him on local radio stations. The unsuspecting radio hosts accommodated him because they were unaware of what the real Mohaman Babalala looked like and claimed his accent sounded similar.

While the journalist took this incident in good humor it reminds us about how important it is to protect our most precious asset – our identity. When you think of everything that is at stake, reputation, livelihood and finances you hope that the organisations that you trust your personal information with are taking all the steps they can to protect it.

Digital ID
Electronic ID is already in use across the world, many users rely on ePassports, health cards and payment cards. While digital forms of ID offer us many benefits, it’s vital that these forms of identification are held to the most stringent security standards.

At NXP we are passionate about personal security. Our secure SmartMX chips have been incorporated into a wide variety of contact and contactless applications. These include payment and bank cards, access management schemes, mass transit infrastructures, device authentication and eGovernment solutions – within the ePassport market alone, NXP is currently involved in more than 80 per cent of all schemes worldwide.

We have received more than 74 common criteria EAL5+ certificates for our SmartMX product range. And our latest contactless SmartMX2 platform has achieved CC EAL 6+ certificate, the first contactless device to reach this high level of security.

Germany and Switzerland recently became one of the first European countries to roll-out Supplemental Access Control (SAC) electronic passports with NXP technology, ahead of the European Union mandate requiring all new ePassports to be SAC compliant by the end of 2014.

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Each SmartMX chip also features up to three dedicated high performance co-processors for AES, 3DES, RSA/ECC. These chips have been specially designed with sophisticated power management for ultra-low power consumption even while running at high speed.

What’s next?
As the electronic ID market develops and becomes more widespread, it’s important the industry continues to innovate and improve our security standards. Driving licences are due to be the next frontier in the digitisation of ID – we are already seeing progress on that front in Europe. I am particularly interested how the industry will evolve as we move towards biometric identification techniques like fingerprint, iris, and facial identification. As an industry we need work together to ensure that – unlike poor Mohaman – you can be sure that there is only ever one of you in existence at a time.

—June Knapen is corporate communications director at NXP.