Got Passport? New IDs available at Passport Office

September 29, 2015
New IDs at Passport Office

The Pioneer Passport Office continues to issue new “smartcard” Passport IDs to faculty, staff, and students according to the following schedule:

  • Week of Sept. 14: : Last name begins A-E
  • Week of Sept. 21: Last name begins F-K
  • Week of Sept. 28: Last name begins L-P
  • Week of Oct. 5: Last name begins Q-U
  • Week of Oct 12: Last name begins V-Z

After October 19, the Passport Office will be open for all remaining faculty, staff, and students to get a new ID. The Passport Office is open from 7:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Monday through Friday.

What are “smartcards”?

Smartcards contain embedded integrated circuits that are not easily duplicated, making them more secure than the magnetic stripe-only version.  Smartcards work by touch, making them more convenient than their mag stripe-only counterpart. UW-Platteville’s smartcards will also employ mag stripes, giving users the best of both technologies.
A smartcard reader can detect the card from within your pocket or backpack; simply touch the card to the reader. No more fumbling to swipe a card when your hands are full.

Are you sure these “smartcards” secure?

Yes. Smartcards (technically referred to as “near field communication” or NFC cards) are more secure because they cannot be read without getting extremely close to the card.  An NFC reader would be almost impossible to conceal on top of an existing reader and still have the original reader work properly. 

Even if it were possible, in order to obtain all NFC information encoded on the card, the reader would have to have the private key.  There are free apps you can download on the Android platform that will read NFC information; however, the encrypted information is not readable by any device that does not have the private key.  Since the private key is highly encrypted and is not shared outside of the manufacturing process, replication of an NFC ID would be extremely difficult.  The amount of time and technology to crack the private key combined with the expense of being able to reproduce an NFC device becomes unreachable by casual hackers.

The encoding on the current magnetic strip, on the other hand, is not encrypted, so it is possible to read this information using a very small reader that can be installed on any existing reader, say, at an ATM or on campus laundry or door access card swipes.  Once someone has obtained the track information on the magnetic card, it can be easily reproduced on a card blank with a card printer which can be obtained rather cheaply these days.  Also, magnetic-strip cards can be read from several feet away creating easier access to information.

This smartcard initiative supports UW-Platteville’s IT strategic goal of a providing a resilient and secure infrastructure. If you have questions about the smartcard initiative, please contact the ITS Help Desk at 608.342.1400 or


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