Estonian Electronic Identity Card: Security Flaws in Key Management


Arnis Parsovs, Software Technology and Applications Competence Center and University of Tartu


The Estonian electronic identity card (ID card) is considered to be one of the most successful deployments of smart card-based national ID card systems in the world. The public-key cryptography and private keys stored on the card enable Estonian ID card holders to access e-services, give legally binding digital signatures and even cast an i-vote in national elections.

In this paper, we describe several security flaws found in the ID card manufacturing process. The flaws have been discovered by analyzing public-key certificates that have been collected from the public ID card certificate repository. In particular, we find that in some cases, contrary to the security requirements, the ID card manufacturer has generated private keys outside the chip. In several cases, copies of the same private key have been imported in the ID cards of different cardholders, allowing them to impersonate each other. In addition, as a result of a separate flaw in the manufacturing process, corrupted RSA public key moduli have been included in the certificates, which in one case led to the full recovery of the corresponding private key. This paper describes the discovery process of these findings and the incident response taken by the authorities.

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@inproceedings {247686,
author = {Arnis Parsovs},
title = {Estonian Electronic Identity Card: Security Flaws in Key Management},
booktitle = {29th USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 20)},
year = {2020},
isbn = {978-1-939133-17-5},
pages = {1785--1802},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

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