South Africa’s Smart ID card “one of the most advanced in the world”

South Africa’s new Smart ID card is one of the most advanced IDs in the world, said the solutions director of LAWtrust, Maeson Maherry.

Maherry, who was speaking at a cybersecurity symposium in Johannesburg, is overseeing the seven-year eID project with the Department of Home Affairs. It is one of LAWtrust’s largest programmes.

“Many countries around the world are starting to realise that an identity credential must interact into the digital world,” Maherry told MyBroadband.

“That has lead to chip-based ID cards and even chip-based passports.”

Automated ID checks

Among the benefits of these cards is that identity checks can be automated so that fewer things can go wrong.

“Many people don’t think Home Affairs [implemented a Smart ID card] because you can’t see the chip, but it’s actually a contactless chip,” said Maherry.

As the card doesn’t have to be inserted and removed from readers to be used, this is great for its durability.

South Africa’s new Smart ID card also has a number of advanced security features in the chip and in the card’s printing.

Advanced security features

Maherry said the new eID has more security features in the printing on the card than bank notes do.

Data in the chip is secured using a mixture of public and symmetric-key cryptography.

However, the “real ticket to the game” is the fact that South Africa’s Smart ID card is a public key infrastructure (PKI) based card.

This will allow it to interact in business and eGovernment processes, said Maherry.

Biometric data is secured on the card, so your fingerprints may be matched to it offline. This can be used to unlock a digital certificate – also secured on the card – which may be used to digitally sign transactions.

Considering the combination of the contactless chip and security features that enable a PKI-based card, it is clear that South Africa has implemented one of the most advanced Smart ID cards in the world.

Now read: Smart ID Card applications open to all South Africans – where to get yours

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South Africa’s Smart ID card “one of the most advanced in the world”