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NIST issues update to PIV standard, adds mobile support


NIST has just issued an update to its standard specification PIV Card, with a new FIPS 201-2 publication.

This new revision includes a derived PIV credential option for use in mobile devices; optional on-card fingerprint comparison capability; use of iris alone or in conjunction with fingerprints; secure messaging through a protected channel between cards and readers as an option; and remote updating of a card’s credentials.

The specification of the optional iris biometric is based on the ISO/IEC 19794-6 iris biometric standard published in 2011. These specifications can serve other iris-based authentication uses cases beyond the PIV program. The on-card fingerprint comparison may be used as an alternate to the Personal Identification Number in use currently. More information on these options can be found in the recently published, Biometric Data Specifications for Personal Identity Verification (NIST Special Publication 800-76-2).

“Offering a strong credential provides better identity assurance as to who you are,” Hildegard Ferraiolo, a NIST computer scientist who co-authored the document said. “The standard can be updated every five years, if needed, and agencies wanted to incorporate their years of experience in a fresher revision.”

The new version of FIPS 201-2, Personal Identity Verification (PIV) of Federal Employees and Contractors, is available on the NIST website. 

Reported previously, NIST recently delivered an earlier version of this new publication for PIV cards which added support for iris images, which had been in development for a while.

During a tense congressional subcommittee hearing in June, Charles Romine, the director of the NIST Information Technology Laboratory promised a standard for iris images in federal identity cards, as the committee chair was adamant NIST be held to account for this new standard, which had been promised in the past.

NIST has also recently published a new IREX study, which found that iris is a stable biometric modality, not affected over time by aging eyes.

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