New Security Chip Card Controllers Make Electronic Identity Cards and Passports Even More Secure

July 16, 2004

Infineon Technologies (FSE, NYSE: IFX) is developing two new security controllers intended to make electronic identity cards and passports of the future even more secure and versatile, and the first global testing of the new ID cards and passports will occur at the end of 2004. With 64 kilobytes of memory, Infineon’s new security controllers, the SLE66CLX640P and SLE66CLX641P, will provide twice the storage capacity of currently available chips, and will store all the personal information of the owner – including biometric data such as fingerprints, facial features, and retina or iris pattern – in encrypted form, for a better protection of the travel documents against misuse. It is predicted that they will speed up checks at international borders significantly.

The first security controller chip is designed as the core of a general-purpose card, which would combine a large number of electronic cash, customer and bank cards. With this chip, several identity documents – for example, staff ID card, healthcare card and driving permit – could be replaced by a single ID card. Data can be read from the chip or written to the chip either wirelessly or via contacts, depending on the application. The second chip has a purely contactless interface and is being developed specifically for a passport, where it will be integrated into the cover or into the plastic-coated document page of the passport. Infineon controllers will enable automatic border controls, should that be desired.

Infineon is the first semiconductor manufacturer in the world to offer the two components essential for electronic ID cards and passports – the chip itself and the hard-ware package that houses it. Both satisfy the high standards required for security documents. Until now, chip cards have been designed for a maximum useful lifetime of five years, whereas electronic ID cards and passports are generally valid for ten years. Infineon has aimed its new controllers at precisely these requirements.

To provide maximum protection for the data, Infineon has built more than 50 individual security mechanisms into the SLE66CLX640P and SLE66CLX641P chips. This ensures that the stored data enjoys today’s best possible protection against manipulation and improper use. For example, firewalls protect the data against forgery or illegal use, and data encryption and sensors defend against hacker attacks.

The SLE66CLX640P and SLE66CLX641P security controllers will be ready to ship in high volumes by the end of 2004, with first samples available in late summer 2004.

For further information on Infineon’s product portfolio of security and chip card ICs, please got to:

Explore further: Do you know what you're paying for? How contactless cards are still vulnerable to relay attack

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