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The Growing Security Threat of Fake TWIC Credentials

Written by: Lauren Wynters

So how do you verify the identity of the people who access your port facility or vessel, and ensure they are not a security risk?  The answer is clear enough – just visually check the TWIC of each person who enters of course, like you have always done.  But that old school solution may not be providing you with the security you expect and need.

The Problem

Unfortunately, the increasing sophistication of document mills poses a significant threat to facilities across the United States. Document mills are producing low-cost, high-quality fake TWICs.  

Leveraging advanced printing technologies and counterfeit techniques, they are providing authentic-looking credentials to persons who can’t pass the required background check or who otherwise want access to your facility on false pretenses.  We were recently alerted about one of these mills selling fake TWICs at a flea market.  Despite the low tech outward appearance of these criminal outfits, many of the fakes they produce are absolutely undetectable by the naked eye. 

We should not be surprised that criminals are taking advantage of this.  Our partner – maritime security consulting firm Seebald & Associates, has found that 80% of the time even a fairly crude forgery can get past the visual inspection process.  With high quality fakes available, facility operators are increasingly vulnerable to criminal activities, including smuggling, theft, sabotage, or acts of terrorism.

The Solution

Fortunately, counterfeiters are not the only group that has access to high technology.  Magnar’s FortifID solution authenticates and validates TWICs and will not be fooled by any fake, no matter how sophisticated.  

A TWIC card contains a person’s photograph, fingerprint information, and unique identifiers that can be linked to the Canceled Card List (CCL) if the TWIC is revoked or reported lost or stolen.  This information is stored on a microchip embedded within the card. The FortifID solution reads this information and validates that the TWIC is authentic, not expired, and not on the CCL.  

Using a Magnar FortifID reader, security guards can concentrate on observing the person’s behavior, validate their business reason for entry, and conduct any additional screening.  Providing a well-trained guard with a modern tool creates the multi-factor authentication process needed to counter emerging threats and ensure security.

Combating the threat posed by document mills producing fake TWIC credentials is easy and affordable with Magnar’s subscription based FortifID solution. The FortifID is the first ever access control solution designed specifically for the maritime industry by certified FSOs. Everyone at Magnar is a certified FSO, and we work closely with our clients and other FSOs to design and refine our solutions.

Magnar understands the unique security and business needs of MTSA and CFATS facilities.  We couple security best practice and regulatory compliance in every layer of the solution. FortifID provides real-time monitoring and management, an information portal, and other features that promote efficient, effective security.   

While FortifID is a sophisticated security tool, its process for credentialing and identifying a fake, expired or canceled TWIC is quite simple:

  1. The FortifID hardware can authenticate, validate and verify the TWIC credential in under 4 seconds – faster than a flash check done in accordance with 33 CFR 105.
  2. The FortifID checks against an always-up-to-date Canceled Card List (CCL) and provides a clear pass/fail and explanation as to why a credential is trusted or not.
  3. The FortifID standardizes credentialing and removes the rote, repetitive task of visual inspections allowing for more situational awareness of your guards.
  4. The FortifID does not require any IT infrastructure and operates straight out of the box even in blackout conditions.
  5. The FortifID can validate a TWIC even if the antenna of the TWIC is damaged.  

At Magnar, we want access control to be attainable for all facilities – large and small. Our goal is to help businesses increase their safety and security through effective, modern, and reliable screening and credentialing.  The FortifID solution is a tool for day to day access control, a deterrent against future attacks, and a visible sign to employees, business partners, and investors that your business is taking security seriously.

Information moves quickly in port areas, and you can be certain that any groups or individuals who might be targeting your business will quickly take notice that your access control procedures now include FortifID readers.  As they are forced to seek out easier targets, the Coast Guard and other regulators will appreciate your efforts.  For clients participating in the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism program, Customs and Border Protection may recognize the use of FortifID readers as a best practice, helping to ensure full validation as a secure supply chain partner.  

Modern threats require modern solutions.  Counterfeit TWICs and the people that try to use them are a growing problem, but one that we can solve together.  

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