First digital document security conference calls for international standards

Calls for international standards to safeguard the security of new digital ID technologies, have been supported by the first Digital Document Security Conference.

The event saw delegates from global government banknote, and ID issuing and enforcement agencies gather in Berlin. These included established security document providers such as Bundesdruckerei, Goznak, SICPA and Orell Füssli, universities and research institutes, and Google, Veridos and Scytáles among other pioneers in new digital transaction and ID systems.

The conference, organised by Reconnaissance International, an authoritative source on secured document data, supported moves towards introducing new global standards spanning the characteristics, security and interoperability of digital driving licences, other ID documents and bank and credit card data, which are stored on smartphones and other portable devices.

The safety and security of digital identity and financial transactions was a key theme to emerge from the presentations and discussions. The event showcased several new digital ID initiatives, such as Kosovo’s new digital driving licence, and other developers’ specific approaches to the protection of digital systems.

However, the fragility of public trust in these systems was also acknowledged as critical. The question was posed: will these technologies have the same level of public trust and confidence enjoyed by banknotes and passports, which feature a high level of inbuilt security and protection?

Dr Alan Hodgson, conference co-chairman, pointed out that “trust takes a long time to build and no time to destroy” . On the other hand, a key driver for digitalisation is public convenience, although this can jeopardise or compromise security. Co-chairman Ian Lancaster iterated that this transition brings a shift in power from the issuers to the public, who own and control the smartphones on which these systems work.

Conference also heard that the tipping point in the move from physical to digital and eID systems had now been passed. But this didn’t prevent delegates from expressing their concerns regarding the security of such systems, given the large number of hacking and ID theft cases now being reported.

The first Digital Document Security Conference - the only event on the security of the document and the concomitant personal information in a fast-moving field - was so successful that delegates have called for it to be held again in 2020.