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Aviation stakeholders discuss biometric data sharing and digital health pass security


airport facial recognition masks

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) brought aviation stakeholders together to discuss information sharing, the progress in airport biometric systems and the potential use of existing systems for digital health pass interoperability, just as Idemia deployed biometric gates to LAX. Paravision’s CEO discussed the use of facial recognition in airports during an online event, meanwhile, and more information is coming out about SITA’s recent data breach.

ICAO and Interpol emphasize data sharing

Biometrics were among the main focusses of ICAO’s Traveller Identification Programme Symposium (TRIP) 2021, held last week under the theme of ‘Game Changing Technologies Driving Seamless Border Management.’

ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu said more than a billion biometric passports are now in circulation, and the same method of authentication they use could be applied to digital health passes, Homeland Security Today reports.

“A possible solution for authenticating these documents will be the Visible Digital Seal (VDS), a technology that builds on ICAO’s expertise in specifications for international travel documents and ePassports in particular,” Fang says.

Liu also spoke about the promising progress of global initiatives to deploy facial recognition and other biometrics, and the ICAO’s Digital Travel Credential (DTC), for easing passengers’ airport journeys.

As part of the event, ICAO and Interpol held a joint forum on exchanging passenger data, at which countries that have not yet implemented the Advance Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Record (PNR) data systems were urged to do so. Aviation leaders also emphasized the importance of screening passenger data as early as possible to allow for thorough border security vetting, as well as avoid bottlenecks at airports.

Both of these priorities require interoperability and good data quality, as well as cooperation between the public and private sector.

The Interpol Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database is now up to 102 million records of stolen credentials, ranging from biometric passports to UN laissez-passer documents, as well as blank and revoked identity documents.

Idemia deploys 78 Easier biometric gates at LAX

SkyLanes automated biometric gates from Easier have been deployed to the new Bradley West Gates building and existing gates at Los Angeles International Airport in partnership with Idemia, Airport Improvement reports.

The deployment of 52 SkyLanes in the new building, and 24 at the Tom Bradley International Terminals’ existing gates marks a major step towards the completion of a three-year contract for biometric boarding gate technology signed in 2019. The contract is for a total of 128 SkyLanes, with possible future expansions in other terminals.

SITA breach details revealed

A breach of SITA passenger records included personal data from 4.5 million Air India passengers, including passenger names, credit card details, dates of birth, contact information, ticket information and frequent-flyer data, SiliconANGLE reports.

The breach, which affected Star Alliance member airlines, was originally reported in March, with “name, tier status and membership number” the only information confirmed stolen.

Biometric passenger data is not typically stored by non-government players in the aviation ecosystem, and does not appear to have been lost in the breach.

Veridium CRO Rajiv Pimplaskar told SiliconANGLE that while the cause of the breach remains unknown, loyalty accounts like frequent flyer programs are targets for credential theft due to the trove of personally identifiable information they store.

“Further, loyalty accounts have less stringent rules around password resets or reuse as compared to financial services accounts employing multifactor authentication methods thereby making it easier for credential harvesting and lateral movement,” Pimplaskar added. “Airlines and the hospitality industry need to accelerate their adoption of passwordless technologies such as ‘phone as a token’ or FIDO2 security keys that eliminate this dependence on credentials.”

Paravision CEO talks contactless travel processes

The original business case for biometrics in airports of traveler convenience is now supplemented with common desire for touchless interactions, and could eventually include a new level of personalization, an industry expert told an interviewer during a recent PhocusWire event.

Speaking during the PhocusWire Pulse: Decoding Travel Security event, Paravision CEO Doug Aley said a fair alternative to biometric processing should be provided to passengers who want to opt out.

“The good news is that because of the great advocacy work that’s been done globally at this point, with a few countries I think excluded from that, we’re in a position now its just become best practice to do the right thing,” Aley says. “And so we’re less concerned about privacy than we were before outside of what I would call kind of real-time surveillance-type use cases, which I think fall out of the norm for the travel industry in particular.”

Aley also discussed the benchmarking performed by NIST and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and standards from ICAO, advances to reduce the cost of biometric systems and give them more architectural flexibility.

Emirates biometrics, health pass efforts recognized

Emirates has won its eighth consecutive ‘Best Airline Worldwide’ acknowledgement from the Business Traveller Middle East Awards 2021, Sri Lanka’s The Island Online reports.

The award recognizes the airline’s efforts to ease passenger journeys with biometric checkpoints, COVID-mitigation efforts including adopting the IATA Travel Pass, as well as rebooking and membership benefits programs.

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