A Bush and a Rush on bio-cards gets Digital Defense noticed

Thursday, May 18, 2006

OMAHA, Neb.--On Monday, May 15, President George W. Bush addressed the nation in a prime-time speech, outlining his goals for a national immigration policy. Contained within that speech was his point that "we need to hold employers to account for the workers they hire." However, he noted that employers have no way to verify that provided documents are legitimate. "Therefore," he said, "comprehensive immigration reform must include a better system for verifying documents and work eligibility. A key part of that system should be a new identification card for every legal foreign worker. This card should use biometric technology, such as digital fingerprints, to make it tamper-proof."
It just so happens that Digital Defense, a division of Gabriel Technologies located here, makes such a card. Security industry types aren't the only ones who noticed. The day after President Bush's address, radio personality Rush Limbaugh specifically drew attention to Digital Defense's IronGate and Factor4 biometric-enabled cards.
"It's incredible news for us," said Digital Defense president Steve Campisi. "When he said that, I was just shocked. When President Bush mentioned what I thought was my product, I thought, 'Does he have my spec sheet?' And to hear Rush read quotes directly from our web site ... all of us here are thrilled."
The Factor4 and IronGate products are considered unique by Digital Defense because the fingerprint reader is right on the card, allowing users to self-enroll, to have their fingerprint stored right on the card, and for the RFID to simply transmit a certification for verification. This way, the biometric never leaves the card and is never stored in a database, solving many privacy worries expressed by the public regarding the storage of biometric information.
"We take [the fingerprint], run it through a patent-pending algorithm, and create a virtually unique certificate," Campisi said of his cards, which have their own operating system and up to 32 MB of memory. "Only the digital identity leaves the card."
But is Limbaugh's attention warranted? If Bush called tomorrow, could Digital Defense deliver? "We are moving into compliance for HSPD-12," Campisi acknowledged, referring to the presidential directive regarding biometric identification for physical and network access control for all government employees and contractors. "I would love to tell you we're certified, but we're not. We can demonstrate FIPS 145. For us the hold-up is just a matter of resources, we can only get so much done in so much time. We need to find more engineers. We are on the prowl for engineers. We cannot get enough."
However, the government market isn't where they've been focusing their resources. Rather, Digital Defense has been looking toward the financial market, hoping to create the "first biometric credit card. We can do a wireless biometric credit card ... We paid attention to bio-privacy, and interoperability, and how to get the masses to enroll in the card."
Getting the masses to enroll? That definitely sounds like President Bush's immigration problem.