As part of a continuing blog series on mobile government (mGov), we’ve
expansion of online access
to government services, and how
derived credentials, a form of digital ID, can make it safer to use mGov services.
In this blog, we look at the emerging discipline of credential management,
which ensures a properly derived and stored credential, and the types of
applications that can benefit from using derived credentials. We begin by
looking at the best way to derive a digital credential.
Smartcard eIDs provide the foundation
The smoothest transition to mobile access begins with the proven, verified
electronic IDs (eIDs) associated with smartcards. This is because smart card
eIDs are governed by national or internationally recognized standards and have
proven themselves, in years of use in billions of authentications, to be a
trusted way to identify a person. The digital credentials derived from
smart card eIDs reflect this high level of trust and provide a sound basis for
The embedded secure elements (eSEs) used to support derived credentials are
another important part of the security picture, since they’re
compatible with existing contactless smart card infrastructures (including
those that use MIFARE or NFC), and can be authenticated using in-place
methods. Built-in compatibility with the existing infrastructure also helps
simplify the deployment and lowers the cost of ownership.
Having established an infrastructure for trusted ID services that are based on
derived credentials, governments can get closer to the ideal of creating a
single-entry point for multiple services, since the new infrastructure makes
it possible to issue one ID that fits every application. Using a single ID to
access multiple services, in what’s referred to as
“federated” ID management, is something private organizations
are pursuing, too, since the approach enables secure use of private digital
information while extending the service offering.
One ID, many uses
As an example of using one digital credential to simplify access to multiple
services, consider a smartcard-based eID program that already includes two
applets, one for a national ID and one for a health card. Adding a third
applet, for a driver’s license, makes the smart card design more complex
and means more stakeholders must align and agree on a suitable card profile.
With an infrastructure for properly derived credentials and a flexible
authentication platform, however, these design constraints are essentially
removed. A single ID can be securely linked to multiple applications, for use
with any number of public and private services. The initial card launch can be
quick, with new use cases added over time. The total cost of ownership goes
down, while the number of options available to citizens goes up.
The derived credential can be used in much the same way traditional IDs are
used, but in a mobile context. In the case of the driver’s license, for
example, the derived mobile driving license might be used to reserve a rental
car, to verify the driver’s authorization to operate the vehicle. The
derived credential from a national ID can serve as verification of residency
when applying to open a bank account, initiate utility service to a new
apartment or join the local library. In similar fashion, the derived
credential from a healthcard might be used to verify medical information, such
as a prescription for medication or corrective lenses, when using an online
pharmacy or ordering a pair of eyeglasses. Derived credentials offer a unique
combination of flexibility and security, making it possible to transition just
about any service, public or private, to the mobile environment.
In many of today’s online applications, developers are forced to make a
tradeoff between security and convenience. As the level of protection
increases, ease of use tends to go down, since the authentication process
becomes more complex. Using derived credentials in mobile devices promises to
eliminate this trade-off between security and convenience, since the mobile
format enables next-generation ID methods that are both secure yet easy to use
because they are context aware. That is, the authentication method used by the
back-end system takes into account factors like who the user is, what they are
requesting, how the user is connected, the time of day and where the user is
located. With context awareness, the authentication process might use one set
of requirements when the access request comes from a network inside a
government office, but a different set when it comes from a public Wi-Fi.
Operating in response to current conditions, these context-aware methods
promise to optimize security, convenience and cost. The identification method
can vary depending on the device and its specific features. For example, if
the device is equipped with a biometric sensor that reads fingerprints or
recognizes a face or voice, then the authentication method can use the
biometric. If the device doesn’t have a biometric, then a PIN number, a
Transaction Authentication Number (TAN), or a password can be used as the
basis for authentication.
The added level of flexibility afforded by derived credentials and
context-aware authentication means it’s easier to choose the right
level of security for each situation. With high-stakes applications, such as
access to health records, for example, multi-factor authentication can be used
to reach the necessary level of security, but with applications that present a
lower risk, a less sophisticated authentication method can lower the
technology overhead – without compromising privacy or security.
NXP’s approach to derived credentials for mGov
At NXP, we’re building on our number-one position as a supplier of
silicon solutions for eGov to support the trend toward mGov. We are already a
leading supplier of eSEs to the smartphone industry, and a recognized
innovator in the secure services that rely on eSEs for protection and are
using that experience to build solutions for other mobile devices and mGov
applications. We’re also creating a service platform that will provide
our customers with an infrastructure for digital authentication supporting
various credential types.
Using eID hardware as a starting point, the NXP platform supports an easy
design and deployment of secure authentication services for mobile
applications, and will help developers migrate multi-application eID operation
into the mobile space.
Go a level deeper
To learn more about our work in this area, visit the eGov section
of our website or contact your local sales office.
NXP blog: Derived credentials create a secure, convenient link between
physical & digital identities
NXP blog: Paving the way for digital identities and mobile eGov access