The EU’s ‘cyber security’ Agency, ENISA (the European Network and Information Security Agency) today presents its new Position Paper. The paper is focusing on authentication risks with European eID Cards. It analyses 7 vulnerabilities, identifies 15 threats and gives security recommendations.
Major European eID interoperability projects, such as STORK and its successor ELSA are aiming at a European-wide take-up of new technologies. In this context, ENISA takes an independent look at the security risks related to online banking authentication by comparing smart eID cards with other authentication means in its latest Position Paper.
Online banking in one of the most widely-used electronic services by European consumers. It is a strategic service for financial institutions and users. With 24 hour service availability, it is extremely convenient. It is often without any extra costs; or even at reduced costs compared to traditional banking processes. However, online banking fraud is on the rise. Thus, security is a major concern both for online banking, e.g. tax declarations. The report also includes a case study on privacy issues when authenticating with smart cards to online social networks.
The Agency report explains that because more and more internet applications require authentication, more standardized approaches to user identification and authentication are needed. In Europe, several states have already rolled out electronic ID cards. The first steps when we use internet services are usually to identify ourselves by our names and then authenticate that it is us. The security levels for these steps can vary from a simple combination of username, password, through a secret PIN, to credentials generated by some external device or a smart card using cryptography. Smart cards are increasingly being used for authentication purposes. Many European identity cards contain a smart-card chip, with functionalities for online authentication.
The ENISA Position Paper defines a comprehensive list of requirements for national ID cards to ensure that they become as flexible and as multi-purpose as possible.
The Executive Director of ENISA Dr Udo Helmbrecht concludes:
"Electronic identity cards offer secure, reliable electronic authentication to Internet services, but banks and governments must cooperate better to be able to use national eID cards for banking purposes."
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