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Digital Vaccine Passports in the U.S.

With COVID-19 variants still making their way around the world, organisations are exploring the benefits of digital vaccine passports. They are starting to be utilised in the U.S., but many consumers are concerned about their security. As a result, adoption rates are limited because, after all, without trust in the security and functionality of digital passports, citizens are less likely to share their sensitive personal information.

As city and state governments begin to roll out digital passports, security must be at the forefront to build trust and ensure widespread adoption. This is particularly important after the lack of security and privacy associated with contact tracing apps led to much lower adoption than governments had wanted.

The key risks jurisdictions face with digital passports include spoofing of records, leaking of private information and other security breaches that impact both citizens and governments. Frictionless adoption by citizens and venues, therefore, requires adhering to security and privacy best practices.

Since security is so vital for ensuring a smooth digital vaccine passport rollout, here are three crucial areas governments should focus on:

  1. Secure infrastructure. When implementing digital passports, governments should strive to collect only the minimum information necessary to effectively identify individuals and validate their vaccination status. Personal information should only be accessible through an authentication and authorisation mechanism that adequately secures this data from unwanted third parties.

More importantly, governments should implement strong encryption to further protect this personal information. This includes encrypting data stored on the backend server and data in transit to and from the mobile clients. A secure backend server is also required for a digital vaccine passport system.

  1. Protected mobile apps. While citizens will likely need to provide medical records to governments to set up their digital passports, they should not need to share personal health information on an ongoing basis. By using a digital certificate, like a QR code, mobile passport apps can enable citizens to prove their vaccination status without revealing any medical records.

Additionally, governments should ensure these digital certificates are only accessible to users who log in so the data can’t be compromised if mobile devices are lost or stolen. The best approach is to leverage the phone’s built-in authentication, such as thumbprints or other biometric options, enabling individuals to pull up their digital vaccine certificates securely.

These mobile apps can be made secure by design and should. Encrypt any signatures or keys required to securely communicate with the backend server. Even if these mobile apps do not have access to sensitive data themselves, they remain an endpoint in the communications channel with government servers and could be exploited to conduct denial-of-service attacks.

  1. Reliable proof of identity. The final pillar of security is requiring adequate proof of identity. If governments are not carefully authenticating citizens using drivers’ licenses, passports or another credible form of identification, it is easy for individuals to circumvent the entire system. Preventing vaccine passport spoofing requires a reliable way for tying an individual’s authenticated identity to a valid digital certificate.

For this reason, venues should verify individuals using a physical proof of identity when they scan the digital certificate to validate a vaccination status. Once individuals are authenticated, the digital passport apps should only present a verifiable QR code, and the venue only has to confirm that it corresponds to the provided physical proof of identity.

Digital health care presents a number of challenges for governments and businesses, but digital vaccine passports are a much simpler problem to solve. By providing a secure and easy-to-use digital mechanism for verification of vaccination status, governments can accelerate the re-opening of the economy and build a secure and trusted foundation for further digital health care initiatives in the future.

PARTNER

Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

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CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Well-known for our strengths in system integration and consultation, CTC Global proves to be the preferred IT outsourcing destination for organizations all over Singapore today.

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Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

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SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

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HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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