While any ID card can benefit from advanced visual and logical technologies for enhanced security, it is particularly important that these technologies be used in Federal and other government identity applications — including driver’s licenses, permanent resident or “green” cards, and ID cards used by Federal agencies and the military.
The most common form of ID in the U.S is the driver’s license. Green Cards are also widely used to identify foreign-born residents living in the U.S. as permanent residents. Two other prevalent credentials are the Common Access Card (CAC) issued by the Department of Defense (DoD), and the personal identity verification (PIV) card used by Federal agency employees and their contractors.
Each of these ID cards is issued according to guidelines established by its issuing body, but all are influenced today by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). While the focus here is on card issuance for the government, there are certainly lessons and strategies that can hit home for private-sector security executives tasked with issuing cards on a daily basis in industries such as healthcare and large corporations.
Advancements in secure issuance solutions — including printers, card materials and software — are making it easier to meet the latest issuance guidelines by incorporating critical visual and logical technologies, and using multi-layered management procedures that improve issuance system security and efficiency.
The DHS Influence
One of the most far-reaching credential initiatives is Homeland Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12), which established a government-wide standard for identity credentials to improve both logical and physical access control. HSPD-12 requires the use of this standard credential by all Federal employees and contractors when gaining physical access to Federally controlled facilities, as well as for logical access to Federally controlled information systems.
In Feb. 2005, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released the required standard as Federal Information Processing Standards Publication 201 (FIPS 201). The associated credential is called the Personal Identity Verification (PIV) card.
PIV cards leverage smart card and biometric technology, and also support strong authentication methods both on the desktop and at the door. FIPS 201 has had far-reaching implications: the cards have not only impacted Federal agencies, but also their contractors and even commercial businesses and other state and municipal government organizations, as well as the military’s Common Access Card (CAC), which has become the most widely used Department of Defense (DoD) identity credential. The DoD launched a new CAC in compliance with HSPD-12 in Oct. 2006.
Another card impacted by Federal security mandates is the U.S. driver’s license. According to DHS, preventing terrorists from obtaining state-issued identification documents is critical to securing America against terrorism. It has established minimum standards for driver’s licenses and identification cards that Federal agencies would accept for official purposes, including accessing Federal facilities and boarding Federally regulated commercial aircraft.
Green Cards, too, have been a focus area for DHS, which aims for these credentials to stay years ahead of counterfeiting techniques. For a card designed to last a decade, this is vital. In May 2010, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began issuing all Green Cards in a new, more secure format using state-of-the-art technology that prevents counterfeiting, obstructs tampering and facilitates quick and accurate authentication of the card.
Meeting security needs for these cards requires multi-layered validation using a combination of card elements, as well as a multi-layered card issuance and management approach that also optimizes efficiency, utility and user convenience.