Privacy and Security Risks when Authenticating on the Internet with European eID Cards

Whenever we use internet services, the first steps we take are usually identification (we input our names) and authentication (we prove that it is us). How we actually identify and authenticate ourselves depends on the security level of the application. The means used can vary from a simple combination of username and password, through a secret PIN, to a PIN generated by some external device or a smart card using cryptography. Smart cards are being used increasingly for authentication purposes. Many European identity cards now contain a smart-card chip, equipped with functionalities for online authentication. They are usually called 'electronic identity cards' (eID cards). This report focuses on authentication using smart cards and compares this approach with other common means of authentication.

Nov 26, 2009


Ingo Naumann, European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA), EU
Herbert Leitold, Zentrum für sichere Informationstechnologie (A-SIT), Austria
John Velissarios, Accenture, UK
Jens Bender, Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), Germany
Gregory Henwood, Home Office, UK
Andre Vasconcelos, Agency for Public Services Reform, Portugal
Giles Hogben, European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA), EU
Jaan Priisalu, Swedbank, Estonia
Marc Stern, Approach Belgium, Belgium
Henning Daum, Giesecke & Devrient, Germany
Lorenzo Gaston, Gemalto, France
Arie Schilp, Rabobank, the Netherlands
Frank Zimmermann, Hewlett-Packard, Switzerland
Raul Sanchez-Reillo, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain

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