Malaysia Points The Way To Digital Security With Dot-sized Microchip

New Delhi: | Updated: Sep 17 2003, 05:30am hrs
In what could lead to a revolution in security technologies and applications, the Malaysian government is working on a project to use a microchip that can be embedded on a human body or even a bullet to track terrorists.

Moreover, the microchip, which is .5 square millimetres in size (about the size of a dot) and enabled with radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, can also be embedded in currency to avoid duplication and generation of fake currency notes. The chip can also be used to remotely scan currency notes.

Quoting an international media report, the controller of certifying authority (CCA) of India for digital signatures, KN Gupta, said that Malaysia has bought the rights of the microchip from its developer, a Japanese company called FEC Inc. Mr Gupta spoke with eFE on the sidelines of SmartCard Expo 2003an annual exhibition and conference event being organised in New Delhijust after his address to delegates. Mr Gupta had developed the idea of using digital signatures in currency notes as a security measure sometime back and had also applied for a patent.

Malaysia was also the first country to start using smart card-based National Id cards for its citizens two years back. The card can be used as identification, drivers licence and carries digital signatures by Malaysian citizens. Mr Gupta advocated the use of similar digital signatures in National Id cards being planned by the Indian government.

Later, addressing the conference, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) executive vice-president for advance technology, Dr M Vidyasagar, also supported the idea of including digital signature technology in National Identity cards. TCS is a certifying authority for digital signatures and has also developed an indigenous technology solution for the same.

Dr Vidyasagar said TCS is working on reducing the cost of digital signatures to around Rs 200-250 for each user including the medium (a smart card). The company is developing its own very large scale integration (VLSI) implementation of a new technique called elliptic curve cryptography (ECC). ECC enables a shorter key length for digital signatures which, in turn, lowers the cost of the technology.

TCS has been providing software solutions to the income tax department to enable it to allow tax payers to file tax returns online. In this case, the forms would be signed by banks. In the next phase, all permanent account number (PAN) holders could be issued digital signature certificates enabling them to sign their own forms.