Entrust to sign e-passports

The State Department's first generation of e-passports will store electronic information that is digitally signed using technology from Entrust, company executives announced this week.

State officials will issue the first e-passports with digital signatures to federal employees later this year as part of a test program. Department officials will be using digital signatures to protect personal information stored in an electronic chip on the passports.

"It's a way of electronically protecting the record so it can't be counterfeited or altered," said Chris Voice, chief technology officer at Entrust. Personal data will not be encrypted, but any attempt to tamper with the data -- say, changing someone’s height from 6 feet 11 inches to 5 feet 10 inches -- could be detected.

When border officials check e-passports containing digital signatures, Voice said, they will also be able to tell whether the passport is a legitimate State-issued document.

State also uses Entrust's identity and access management software on 90 percent of its 14,500 desktop computers and on 16,000 personal identification cards that it has issued to employees.

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