Continental Airlines is using Certicom’s two-dimensional (2D) bar-code technology to become the first U.S. airline to enable passengers to check in and board flights using their secure mobile devices, such as cell phones or PDAs. The capability is part of a larger bar-code initiative being considered by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). According to the IATA, bar-code technology could save the airline industry more than $500 million a year.
Certicom’s 2D bar coding, which is based on Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC), uses much smaller key sizes than current RSA encryption—163 bits versus 1024 bits. The smaller signature added to the bar code requires less “real estate” on printed tickets or mobile device screens. The Certicom solution uses standards-based digital signatures that provide authentication and customer privacy, allowing personal passenger information—like a passenger’s frequent flyer or drivers’ license number—to be securely encrypted within the digital signature.
“Two-dimensional bar-code technology is rapidly growing in popularity because it is inexpensive to implement and provides much more security than one-dimensional bar codes, which are commonly used for product identification,” said Mike Harvey, senior product management for Certicom. “This technology has the ability to be used in a wide range of travel industry applications, including mobile and web-based ticketing. In addition, it applies not just to people traveling, but also to the larger air freight industry, including baggage carriers, where bar codes can contain private passenger or shipment information.”