Germany’s Biometric Border Control – Interview with Georg Hasse of secunet

Biometric Border Control

November is Biometric Border Control Month at FindBiometrics.

Europe is expected to dominate the booming automated border control market over the next five years, according to recent research and analysis from Acuity. One of the companies involved in this border control revolution is German IT security company secunet Security Networks AG. FindBiometrics president Peter O’Neill had a chance to speak with Georg Hasse, Senior Product Manager, Portfolio Electronic Identities at secunet. The conversation deals with secunet’s mission as a biometrics company, its products, and how its technologies are helping Germany achieve automated border control.

Peter O’Neill, President, FindBiometrics (FB): Please provide our readers with a brief background of your company.

Georg Hasse, Senior Product Manager, Portfolio Electronic Identities, secunet: secunet Security Networks AG is one of Germany’s leading providers of superior IT security. In close dialogue with our customers – enterprises, public authorities and international organisations – we develop high-capacity products and IT security solutions. In the area of biometrics, secunet offers solutions and know-how for the complete life cycle of electronic passports, identity documents, residence permits, and visas. secunet is IT security partner of the German Federal Government and has been working closely with the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) in the field of biometrics for many years now.

FB: Can you please describe secunet’s range of biometric products?

secunet: Before giving you an overview of our range of biometric and eID solutions we offer, I would like to explain that at secunet we do not see identity protection as a single solution; we always have the whole process chain in mind. This is a decisive advantage for our customers: our biometrics specialists have a better understanding of the effects a new project will have on previous or subsequent process stages than anyone else. For our customers, this guarantees smooth integration of their solution into the overall process. Within the biometrics industry we are well known for our BioAPI 2.0 compliant biometric middleware secunet biomiddle that is being used by various public authorities in Europe as a platform for their border control and visa applications. This middleware is also an integral part of our eGate solution secunet easygate that is currently being rolled out at German airports within EasyPASS, the German ABC project. In addition we offer a modular Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) solution called secunet eID PKI Suite that is being used in the border control context with modern eMRTDs.

FB: Can you tell our readers more about the advantages of secunet biomiddle?

secunet: All the biometric applications in the eID life cycle have to be absolutely up-to-date at all times. This means that they must be extremely adaptable: it should not be necessary to replace the entire system every time biometric technologies or standards undergo further development in this highly dynamic market; or whenever new methods are introduced to improve anti-counterfeiting protection; or when new requirements relating to biometric applications are introduced. Flexible solutions that nonetheless provide investment security can be achieved using adaptable architecture concepts that are conform to the standards. The basis for these solutions is secunet biomiddle, a BioAPI 2.0 compliant middleware that minimises complexity and expenditure by using internationally accepted biometric standards and the manufactured components connected to the system: All biometric functions are made available to the application as bundled data via a service-oriented interface and can therefore be integrated quickly and easily into existing systems. The SOAP interface creates greater flexibility on the client side with regard to performance, scalability and independence from platforms and programming languages.

FB: You are one of the leaders in airport border control. Please describe your deployment at the Frankfurt airport which I believe started in 2009?

secunet: On behalf of the German Federal Ministry of the Interior under Project EasyPASS, secunet is responsible for the general roll-out of automated border control systems to German airports for the Federal Police. In tandem with our consortium partner Bundesdruckerei, the busiest airports will be equipped with 90 eGates by the end of 2014. The basis for this development was indeed already laid in 2009, when the EasyPASS pilot project was launched at Frankfurt Airport. On behalf of the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), secunet was responsible for planning, implementing and assessing the project and integrating the entire system. In addition, secunet supplied the secunet biomiddle software platform, which makes the EasyPASS system uniquely flexible. Following the successful conclusion of the pilot project in mid-2010, EasyPASS was adopted by the Federal Police as the standard border control process at Frankfurt Airport. Having undergone constant further development in close cooperation with the Federal Police, the new generation of eGates, which is now being rolled out across Germany, has an improved, intuitive user interface and optimised security against circumvention.

FB:      Has this been a good year for your company?

secunet: 2014 has been an excellent year for the eID division of secunet! Starting with the large-scale eGate project EasyPASS in Germany, the PKI project for the Norwegian police and last but not least the complete border control solution we recently deployed at Zurich airport in Switzerland.

FB:  What can we expect to see from secunet in the next year?

secunet: Within the eID division of secunet we will continue to focus on border control solutions and expect to be heavily involved in the Smart Borders activities in the EU.