Border Security: Better Usage of Electronic Passport Security Features Could Improve Fraud Detection, Report to Congressional Requesters   [open pdf - 1MB]

"In 2005, the Department of State (State) began issuing electronic passports (e-passports) with embedded computer chips that store information identical to that printed in the passport. By agreement with State, the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) produces blank e-passport books. Two foreign companies are used by GPO to produce e-passport covers, including the computer chips embedded in them. At U.S. ports of entry, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) inspects passports. GAO [Government Accountability Office] was asked to examine potential risks to national security posed by using foreign suppliers for U.S. e-passport computer chips. This report specifically examines the following two risks: (1) Can the computer chips used in U.S. e-passports be altered or forged to fraudulently enter the United States? (2) What risk could malicious code on the U.S. e-passport computer chip pose to national security? To conduct this work, GAO reviewed documents and interviewed officials at State, GPO, and DHS relating to the U.S. e-passport design and manufacturing and e-passport inspection systems and procedures. GAO recommends that DHS implement the systems needed to fully verify e-passport digital signatures at U.S. ports of entry, and in coordination with State, implement an approach to obtain the necessary data to validate the digital signatures on U.S. and other nations' e-passports. DHS agreed with our recommendations."

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Government Accountability Office: http://www.gao.gov/
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