Preventing Attacks on Machine Readable Travel Documents (MRTDs)

After the terror attacks of 9/11, the U.S. Congress passed legislation that requires in the US Visa Waiver Program to begin issuing issuing machine readable passports that are tamper resistant and incorporate biometric and document authentication identifiers. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has issued specifications for Machine Readable Travel Documents (MRTD) that are equipped with a smart card processor to perform biometric identification of the holder. Some countries, such as the United States, will issue machine readable passports that serve only as passports. Other countries, such as the United Kingdom, intend to issue more sophisticated, multi-application passports that can also serve as national identity cards. We have conducted a detailed security analysis of these specificationsm, and we illustrate possible scenarios that could cause a compromise in the security and privacy of holders of such travel documents. Finally, we suggest improved cryptographic protocols and high-assurance smart card operating systems to prevent these compromises and to support electronic visas as well as passports.

By: Gaurav Kc; Paul A. Karger

Published in: RC23909 in 2006


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