About the size of a credit card, the electronic-passport card displays a photo of the user and a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip containing data about the user. The State Department announced recently that it will begin producing the cards next month and issue the first ones in July.It's security by expediency at its finest.
Security specialists told The Washington Times that the electronic-passport card can be copied or altered easily by removing the photograph with solvent and replacing it with one from an unauthorized user.
James Hesse, former chief intelligence officer for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Forensic Document Laboratory, which monitors fraudulent government documents, said the card should have been designed with a special optical security strip to make it secure and prevent counterfeiting. The selection of a card with an RFID chip is 'an extremely risky decision,' Mr. Hesse said in an interview.
'The optical strip has never been compromised,' he said. 'It's the most secure medium out there to store data.'
Joel Lisker, a former FBI agent who spent 18 years countering credit-card fraud at MasterCard, said the new cards pose a serious threat to U.S. security. 'There really is no security with these cards,' he said.
Mr. Lisker, a consultant to a competitor for the electronic-passport card contract, said the State Department's selection of the RFID card shows it favors speedy processing at entry points more than security. He charged that the department 'will not make changes until it is satisfied that compromises are occurring on a regular basis.'
Friday, May 16, 2008
They're like the Department itself-largely ineffective and full of security holes.