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Estonian government: Estonia will block the certificates of 760 000 ID cards as of the evening of 3 November

Stenbock House, 2 November 2017 – At today’s cabinet meeting, the Estonian government endorsed the proposal of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board and the Information System Authority to block the certificates of ID cards at risk on 3 November 2017 at 24.00. All ID cards will continue to function as identification documents. ID cards with blocked certificates can be renewed at the service points of the Police and Border Guard Board, which will be open on the weekend for that purpose, and it is still possible to renew the cards online. 

“The functioning of an e-state is based on trust and the state cannot afford identity theft happening to the owner of an Estonian ID card. As far as we currently know, there has been no instances of e-identity theft, but the threat assessment of the Police and Border Guard Board and the Information System Authority indicates that this threat has become real,” Prime Minister Jüri Ratas said. “By blocking the certificates of the ID cards at risk, the state is ensuring the safety of the ID card.”

The danger of the security threat becoming real is increased by the fact that it was not a flaw of the Estonian ID card alone, but also included cards and computer systems around the world that use the chips by the same producer. This brought the safety flaw to the attention of international cybercrime networks which have significant means to take advantage of the situation.

“Our first priority is the protection of people’s health data, which is why blocking the certificates is the only conceivable option. Over the past two months, a lot of work has been done to ensure the functioning of health and social services even in the case of the closure of the ID certificates. However, some disruptions may occur in hospitals in the coming weeks, which is why we ask for understanding from patients – this step will protect your data,” said Jevgeni Ossinovski, Estonian Minister for Health and Labour.

Estonian Minister for Justice Urmas Reinsalu stressed that the suspension of ID-card certificates must not affect Estonia’s reliability. “When suspending the certificates of ID cards, the country has to guarantee an uninterrupted continuation of the effective work of the state of law,” he emphasised.

All people, for whom it is essential to renew their ID cards, can renew their ID cards at the Police and Boarder Guard Board service points.

In order to guarantee the functioning of the eGovernment, only those people who must use their ID card actively in their work can update the certificate from 3 to 5 November. There are about 35 000 of these people, among them doctors, government officials working in the field of justice, as well as employees of the civil status office, who will be served first in the office of the Police and Border Guard Board.

The current situation does not mean that all ID-card owners have cause for concern. A person’s ID card does not require an update if:

  • the ID card was issued before 16 October 2014; 
  • the card owner only uses the ID card as a travel document or as an identity document; 
  • the card owner does not use the ID card electronically, e.g.does not enter/use the ID card’s PIN1 or PIN2;
  • the card owner only uses the ID card to buy prescription medicine at a pharmacy by using a digital prescription, or as a loyalty card.

Additionally, the withdrawal/blocking of the certificates does not concern people who have already updated their ID-card certificates or have received a new ID-card without the security flaw.

Press release 2.11.2017

Topic: PKI

Added 02.11.2017

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