Nortal employee awarded state decoration for Estonian ID-card fix

by Nortal HQ, February 23, 2018

Nortal System Architect Kaarel Raspel has received a high state honor – the Order of the White Cross, 5th Class – for his role in preventing a security crisis linked to the Estonian ID-card.

Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid bestowed this year’s state decorations on Raspel and others in a ceremony held in the run-up to the country’s February 24 centennial.

As outlined in a statement issued by the Office of the President, Raspel made a “significant personal contribution” to preventing the Estonian ID-card security risk from materializing. “He played a leading role in developing the principal solution,” the statement said.

Nortal’s Kaarel Raspel made a significant contribution to preventing the Estonian ID-card security risk from materializing

Raspel was part of a team of specialists called in last year after an international group of researchers discovered a security flaw in the chips used in all ID cards issued in Estonia beginning in October 2014. Around 800,000 cards were affected in the country of 1.3 million. The risk, though theoretical, prompted serious concerns as the ID cards are widely used to access Estonia’s online infrastructure.

Crisis averted

“There were many people working on the same goal,” Raspel said. “I reconstructed the pillars of the Estonian eID ecosystem, the eID application on the smart card, and proposed a way to make file encryption work with elliptic-curve cryptography.”

After the security fix was put in place, affected users could once again use their ID cards for online transactions by updating their security certificates.

Upon hearing the news that he was to receive the decoration, Raspel said he was genuinely surprised and humbled by such high recognition on the state level. “It has been an honor being a part of the team developing the technical solution for the ID-card,” he said.

Introduced in 1936, the Order of the White Star is bestowed on Estonian citizens in recognition of services rendered in state public service or local government, and on foreigners for services rendered to the Estonian state.

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