DHS Report on US-VISIT and RFID
Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Inspector General, “Enhanced Security Controls Needed For US-VISIT’s System Using RFID Technology (Redacted),” OIG-06-39, June 2006.
From the Executive Summary:
We audited the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and select organizational components’ security programs to evaluate the effectiveness of controls implemented on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) systems. Systems employing RFID technology include a tag and reader on the front end and an application and database on the back end.
Overall, information security controls have been implemented to provide an effective level of security on the Automated Identification Management System (AIDMS). US-VISIT has implemented effective physical security controls over the RFID tags, readers, computer equipment, and database supporting the RFID system at the POEs visited. No personal information is stored on the tags used for US-VISIT. Travelers’ personal information is maintained in and can be obtained only with access to the system’s database. Additional security controls would need to be implemented if US-VISIT decides to store travelers’ personal information on RFID-enabled forms or migrates to universally readable Generation 2 (Gen2) products.
Although these controls provide overall system security, US-VISIT has not properly configured its AIDMS database to ensure that data captured and stored is properly protected. Furthermore, while AIDMS is operating with an Authority to Operate, US-VISIT had not tested its contingency plan to ensure that critical operations could be restored in the event of a disruption. In addition, US-VISIT has not developed its own RFID policy or ensured that the standard operating procedures are properly distributed and followed at all POEs.
I wrote about US-VISIT in 2004 and again in 2006. In that second essay, I gave a price of $15B. I have since come to not believe that data, and I don’t have any better information on the price. But I still think my analysis holds. I would much rather take the money spent on US-VISIT and spend it on intelligence and investigation, the kind of security that resulted in the U.K. arrests earlier this week and is likely to actually make us safer.