New German Passport to Contain Contactless Secure Chips from Infineon
In the new electronic passport, the printed information about the bearers identity such as the bearers name, date of birth, and photo, and the passports validity period and number will also be stored encrypted on a chip. And, starting no later than March 2007, fingerprints of each of the bearers index fingers will also be stored in encrypted form. Current plans call for the chip to be invisibly integrated into the front cover.
The German company Bundesdruckerei will be producing the passports and providing the necessary infrastructure including the background system and reading devices, etc. Infineon is one of the two semiconductor suppliers for the German passport.
The high-security chip in the German passportThe data stored on the chip can only be accessed when the passport is opened, and are transmitted contactlessly to an authorized and certificated read-write device. More than 50 individual security mechanisms burned deep inside the Infineon chip using state-of-the-art technology will help ensure that personal data is protected against unauthorized read-out and manipulation. Among other security features, the chips use the RSA method (a special computing algorithm for encrypting data, named after its inventors Ronald L. Rivest, Adi Shamir, and Leonard Adleman) to provide extremely high security. (It is estimated that a billion standard PCs operating in parallel would have to keep computing for about a million years if hackers wanted to attempt to access data encrypted with this system simply by trial and error.) The security mechanisms integrated into Infineons chips also include active protective shields on the surface of the chip and sensors that prevent hackers from being able to read out the chip by applying different voltages.
Germany is among the first countries to introduce the electronic passport, said Peter Bauer, Executive Vice President of Infineon Technologies AG and Head of the Automotive, Industrial and Multimarket business group. Its a feather in Infineons cap for our chips to be used in the new German passport. Weve equipped our chips with the best possible protection mechanisms. A host of security certificates prove that Infineons security controllers have successfully passed the worlds most stringent security tests conducted according to international standards.
The electronic passport are the passports of the futureConditions of entry into countries are set to be tightened up throughout the world, starting at the end of 2005. The United States of America, for instance, will require people from countries with Visa-free entry privileges to have an electronic passport with personal data contained on an embedded chip beginning in October 2005 (current timetable). Visa-free entry into most countries outside the EU will be possible using the chip-based passport. The higher fees charged for issuing a biometric visa will not apply and less time will be spent at checkpoints.
The German passport complies with EU regulations approved in December 2004 which require all EU member states to start issuing electronic passports on which facial and fingerprint features are electronically stored by January 2008.
Infineon supplies its security chips to many of the countries that are introducing electronic passports or have launched test runs either at home or in collaboration with neighboring countries. Examples include the electronic identity card in chip-card format in Italy, the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong and Macao, and Australia, identity cards in Belgium, passports in the Netherlands, and the US Department of Defense Common Access Card.
Infineon has for years been the global market leaderBased on volumes and sales revenue for card applications, Infineon ranks number one in the world. According to the US market research institute Gartner, Infineon was the market leader in chips for card applications for the seventh time in a row in 2004. As the supplier of around 1.26 billion chips, the company had a 47 percent share of the total market of almost 2.7 billion card chips. By sales, Infineons share was 38 percent of the market, which Gartner valued in 2004 at a total of around US-Dollar 1.85 billion.