Cybertrust inks Australian biometric passport deal

IT security and risk-management firm Cybertrust has won a federal government contract to supply the biometric technology being used in the new Australian e-passports.According to Cybertrust, Australia will be one of the first countries to comply with the International Civil Aviation Organisation's standards, which require biometric data to be stored on travel documents.

IT security and risk-management firm Cybertrust has won a federal government contract to supply the biometric technology being used in the new Australian e-passports.

According to Cybertrust, Australia will be one of the first countries to comply with the International Civil Aviation Organisation's standards, which require biometric data to be stored on travel documents.

Next October, the US will be the first country to demand that travellers from countries participating in its visa-waiver program carry a biometric passport. Other countries are expected to follow suit over the coming years.

Peter Tippett, chief technologist at Cybertrust, said that biometric identifiers in passports will make travelling easier and faster; but he admitted that the system is not perfect.

"This will add a layer of safety. Is it perfect? No. We will reduce the risk by 50, 60 or even 70 percent. The bag guys are not going to be able to spoof these. They can spoof the paper ones but they are not going to be able to spoof the digital signature on a chip," said Tippett.

Cybertrust said the new Australian passport will contain the passenger's biographical information along with a digital photograph. Both these items are digitally signed - using the government's unique key -- and stored on a chip inside the passport. This means, according to Cybertrust, that if the information stored on the passport is altered the tampering will be obvious.

Passengers using the new passports will have their document scanned by an immigration official and the data collected will be compared to the ICAO's secure database. If this information matches, the passenger will also have to undergo a visual comparison by immigration officials while being scanned using facial recognition technology.

Paul O'Rourke, chief executive of Cybertrust Asia Pacific, said the e-passport project is one of the biggest implementations of biometric technology.

"This promises to be one of the largest scale biometric projects ever undertaken," said O'Rourke.

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