Cybernetica collaborates with Estonian Information System Authority to advance Estonian digital identity through wallet development

Person holding a smartphone

“Together with RIA, Cybernetica aims to craft a wallet solution tailored to the Estonia’s needs and aligned with existing information systems.”

Aivo Kalu, lead security engineer

In a strategic collaboration with the Information System Authority (RIA), Cybernetica embarks on a pivotal analysis of the technical architecture of the forthcoming Estonian digital identity wallet, as well as the wallet’s compatibility with the Estonian digital identity ecosystem. This initiative is part of the first procurement under the recently concluded four-year framework agreement, amounting to a total of 6 000 000 Euros. Within this comprehensive framework, Cybernetica will provide RIA with applied research, development services, and expert consultations focusing on information security.

As part of this agreement's first task, Cybernetica will analyse the wallet solution — a mobile application designed to serve as an alternative to conventional physical documents such as ID cards and driver's licenses. The development of wallet aligns with preparations for a pan-European Digital Identity Wallet (EUDIW) solution, currently under review in line with the European digital identity regulation (eIDAS).

Leading the charge in this innovative venture, Aivo Kalu, Cybernetica's lead security engineer, explained the multifaceted nature of the European Union's future digital wallet. Kalu emphasised that the EUDIW represents not merely a standalone application but rather an expansive ecosystem of solutions. Within this ecosystem, each EU member state is poised to deploy its own wallet application, complemented by information systems supporting its functionality.
“Together with RIA, Cybernetica aims to craft a wallet solution tailored to the Estonia’s needs and aligned with existing information systems. This bespoke wallet should seamlessly integrate with national information systems, ensuring compatibility and adherence to EU standards for authentication, citizen data submission, and digital signature issuance,” said Kalu.

Riho Kurg, architect at RIA's digital identity department, explained that the ongoing analysis project signifies only the initial step in a series of planned developments. The overarching goal is to enable robust digital identity and state-issued proofs on mobile devices across the entire European Union in the upcoming years. Estonia's existing digital identity serves as the base for the nation's digital services, and the new eIDAS opens avenues to leverage emerging digital technologies on a global scale.
“RIA's primary challenge lies in creating a digital wallet platform that builds upon past experiences while supporting the evolving ecosystem. The harmonisation of cross-border electronic online identity within the EU does not diminish the significance of member states' electronic identities. Instead, it presents an opportunity for companies to leverage their expertise and offer solutions that transcend national boundaries. Although wallets are built with the joint contribution of member states, there are in principle no limits to the establishment of evidence-based business models, whether in logistics, transport or entertainment,” emphasised Kurg.

In tandem with the wallet development, Cybernetica is actively working on the SplitKey CSP product destined for the future digital wallet. This initiative, supported by the joint institution of Enterprise Estonia (EAS) and KredEx with nearly 300 000 euros, falls under the applied research program.

Cybernetica’s software architect Mattias Lass elaborated on the significance of SplitKey CSP: "Wallets are going to contain documents that can be used to access critical information systems such as online banks and public sector portals. Therefore, it is extremely important that these documents remain in the possession of the wallet user – the owner of these documents – and that no one else has access to them. To guarantee this, it is necessary to exclude copying these documents and ensure reliable identification of the owner. The documents in the wallet are essentially digital data, which can be very easy to copy and reproduce."

SplitKey CSP is one possible solution to the previously described problem. As documents in the wallet link to cryptographic keys utilising SplitKey technology, copying becomes impossible, and access remains exclusive to the wallet owner. Lass highlighted that this approach distinguishes itself from other solutions, offering a hardware-independent advantage over alternatives dependent on high-end phone hardware.