Senate ID cards reportedly feature a photo of a smart chip rather than an actual smart chip which is designed to provide greater security for computers.
Techdirt reports that in a letter recently sent from Senator Ron Wyden to two of his colleagues at the Committee on Rules & Administration, Wyden noted that Senate ID cards used by Senate staffers on a regular basis don’t actually feature a smart chip component. Instead, there is a printed picture of a smart chip on the cards, providing the illusion that they utilize the technology.
In a copy of the letter obtained by Techdirt, Wyden explains that Personal Identity Verification (PIV) cards used by employees of the Executive branch contain a smart chip which can be used “as a second-factor to log in to their computers.” However, he notes that “the Senate neither requires nor offers two-factor authentication as an additional protection for desktop computers and email accounts.”
“Moreover, in contrast to the executive branch’s widespread adoption of PIV cards with a smart chip, most Senate staff ID cards have a photo of a chip printed on them, rather than a real chip,” Wyden continues. “Given the significant investment by the executive branch in smart chip based two-factor authentication, we should strongly consider issuing our staff real chip-based ID cards and then using those chips as a second factor.”
Techdirt contacted the Senate and asked for photographic proof of the chip on a Senate ID card but was denied.
Wyden’s letter calls on Senate IT staff to increase the security protocols used to protect government officials. Throughout the 2016 election cyber security became a hot topic following the hacking of DNC emails. WikiLeaks also recently revealed a number of hacking methods utilized by the CIA.