The Role of PKI around the world
Governments around the world are gearing up to deliver the next generation of services to their citizens. To provide such services, governments are in need of robust and scalable technologies and policies to execute trusted transactions and establish trusted identities. Strong credentials based on public key infrastructure (PKI) are the answer. By employing the right mix of authentication, encryption, and digital signatures, governments can significantly reduce the risk of forgery, theft, or abuse of identification credentials. This in turn allows them to secure their borders, protect and allocate public assets and resources, meet their fiduciary responsibilities, and boost overall citizen satisfaction.
Many governments have taken first steps toward implementing security technologies and policies. They have created digitally enhanced travel and identity documents, issued smart healthcare and tax ID cards, and implemented business authentication services. But governments have an obligation to move beyond implementing merely adequate protection mechanisms to deploying the gold standard of safeguards against transaction fraud, identity theft, duplication, and/or spoofing.
Strong credentials based on Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) are the answer. By employing the right mix of authentication, encryption, and digital signatures, governments can significantly reduce the risk of forgery, theft, or abuse of identification credentials. This in turn allows them to secure their borders, protect and allocate public assets and resources, meet their fiduciary responsibilities, and boost overall citizen satisfaction.
Additionally, the trust that PKI engenders leads directly to significant cost savings. Because PKI enables them to securely authenticate a person, organization, or device, governments can streamline processes and complete transactions in a fraction of the time and for a fraction of the cost of what it would take using other, less advanced, security mechanisms. PKI also opens up opportunities for joint efforts by governments and businesses to make citizens’ lives more convenient, productive, and secure.
Why Governments urgently need PKI: the path to a more secure state
Traditional identification credentials are neither robust enough to protect against modern fraud, nor can they enable the next generation of applications, such as digitally signed tax returns, electronic tenders, and seamless border control. Instead, governments require the strong authentication, encryption, and digital signatures that are part of a comprehensive and scalable PKI platform. PKI is the foundation on which governments can execute secure and trusted transactions. Whether between individuals and governments; businesses and governments; or inter-government relationships, PKI allows public entities to securely authenticate all participants in a transaction.
Combating web fraud
One of the most dangerous vectors for web fraud today - including phishing and counterfeit ghost sites - is the "Man In The Middle" attack (MITM). In the United States, under Homeland Security Presidential Directive, the US Government is about to roll out some 10 million smartcards for identifying federal employees and contractors. New federal information processing standard FIPS-201 mandates sophisticated PKI functions in these smartcards for the purpose of remote authentication. PKI smartcards (or alternatively USB keys) have been described by the head of cryptography at the US National Institute for Standards and Technology as the "only practical solution today" for MITM . Thus PKI is emerging literally as the key to safe access to online services.