November 2012


In this day and age, securing one's identity can be a complicated task.

Despite advancements in security features and technology, it is often the case that security or front-desk personnel validate credentials by simply eyeballing the card for a photo or expiration date. Only in the event where something doesn't seem right in the visual inspection is the credential evaluated more closely.

In my role at HID Global, I have insight into the customized, high security features that end users are starting to build into card designs to protect identities to address this issue. Some of the trends in creating high security credentials I am seeing include:

Incorporating several different security elements
Visual security elements (VSEs) create multiple barriers for counterfeiters, and most customers now choose to include at least one element in their card designs. While some elements are easy to detect, others can only be detected and authenticated using special tools. Available security elements fall into three main categories:


  • 1) Overt - visible to the human eye and easy to recognize (e.g., a hologram that changes colors as the card is rotated to a specific angle)

  • 2) Covert - hard to detect without close visual inspection (such as microtext printing hidden within a line or curve within the hologram's design. While the text is technically visible to the human eye, the observer is unlikely to notice it).

  • 3) Forensic - invisible to the human eye and requires special tools to validate (e.g., nano text which can be viewed only with high-powered magnification).



Well-designed overt features should be difficult for counterfeiters to perfectly replicate. In the event a counterfeiter is able to closely mimic overt features, it is highly unlikely that the counterfeiter will notice covert features and incorporate them into their design. As a final defense, forensic features are a highly reliable means of identifying a genuine credential.

Layering VSEs throughout the card
To further increase the difficulty of counterfeiting, customers are creating layered solutions by incorporating VSEs into several areas of the card. For example, they may incorporate a forensic element into their pre-printed card design, add a HoloMark™ foil stamp containing an overt element to the card surface, and incorporate a covert element into holographic PolyGuard® overlaminate being used to increase durability.

Using creativity
Customers are also becoming more creative about how the VSEs are incorporated into their overall card design. Some customers factor in select VSEs at the very beginning of the card design process - when the graphic artist designs the background image to be printed on all cards. The photo, data fields and signature may be placed in specific areas of the card background so that they blend well with VSEs that will be laid down on top of the card after printing, in the form of a holographic overlaminate applied during the lamination process.

The key is to understand which visual security elements are ideally suited to your organization's security needs. Many customers use a card design guide in addition to many other factors that help them determine the right solution.

jmeier's picture

As I've been meeting with government end users and integrators and discussing their requirements for durable, high-security government-to-citizen IDs over the past year, I have seen the interest in HID's FARGO® HDP8500 Industrial Printer/Encoder continue to rise.

Since HDP8500 shipments began in June, 2012, the printer has already been selected for multiple high-security government projects throughout the world, from Australia to South America to the Middle East.

The main reason government ID issuers are looking to the HDP8500 has been the printer's ability to consistently produce secure IDs hour after hour, day after day. At the forefront of the demand for this type of solution are local and national governments; they continually seek reliable solutions for issuing ultra-secure citizen IDs that successfully withstand tampering and forgery attempts. Their requirements include:

  • Card production that meets high throughput demand - printer hardware must be rugged enough to withstand continual use over multiple shifts, whether in a centralized cluster of printers and/or in a distributed array at remote locations.
  • Durable IDs that meet or exceed longevity requirements - printing technology has to be flexible enough to personalize durable polycarbonate card materials in addition to PC, PET, ABS and PVC, and protect cards with polyester overlaminates.
  • Tamper- and fraud-resistant IDs - issuance systems must allow a range of customized high-security visual elements to be incorporated into cards via laser engraving, custom holographic film, overlaminates and/or fluorescing print ribbons.


Recently introduced at CARTES in Paris this year, the new FARGO HDP8500LE Industrial Card Laser Engraver gives ID issuers the ability to use superior engraving technology to permanently inscribe data into highly secure ID cards. Data engraved into credentials are virtually impossible to alter or manipulate. The laser engraver delivers essential security for government card issuance programs that bear an elevated risk of forgery or identity misrepresentation, including voter or worker registration cards, drivers' licenses and citizen identity permits. The laser engraver module integrates seamlessly with the HDP8500 Industrial Series printer/encoder and lamination modules.

It's good news that today operators of high security card issuance programs have a variety of solutions available to help them achieve their challenging and complex security missions. They are telling me that a reliable, flexible desktop printer that allows them to continually produce high volumes of durable high-security IDs is a welcome solution that will meet their needs for today as well as into future.


Following HID Global's success at last year's CARTES & IDentification show, one of the largest industry-centric security events, CARTES 2012 proved to be even more engaging with key industry players, prospects and customers abuzz in Paris at HID Global's booth last week.

Walking around the show, I was not surprised to see that all of the industry leaders could not help but to talk about the hottest trends in either NFC, cloud or other advanced secure identity services.

And HID Global? We were spot on and showcased our products, solutions and services that address the trends in each of these important areas...all "under one HID Global roof". This was a great example of the power of one, where I really think our CARTES booth reflected the power of the depth and breadth of our secure identity solutions portfolio.
Entering the booth, visitors could hardly get past the crowds that gathered around HID's latest new secure card issuance solution -- the FARGO HDP8500LE printer that includes a new laser engraver for advanced and highly secure card issuance programs, such as driver's licenses, national ID and other government-to-citizen ID projects, as well as financial services like credit cards. And after talking to prospects from around the world who were visiting the booth, it was clear that they overwhelmingly are seeing huge opportunities for this type of card personalization solution in their various markets.

Our Identity Assurance team was also extremely pleased with the feedback received regarding our cloud-based mobile converged access solution. Customers and prospects could not wait to see how they can easily authenticate to a cloud based application via mobile phone while also using the same NFC smartphone to securely open a door with HID Global's Seos app.

But I must say that the coolest spot in our booth was our HID Trusted Tag Service showcase. It really astonished people to see how a simple tag can prevent fraud and forgery by securely authenticating high-end products like luxury cars or pieces of art by simply reading a hidden tag with an NFC-enabled mobile phone.

One comment that particularly stood out for me that summarized end-user reactions was that "HID Global 'got it', whilst others didn't!"

One visitor stated, "With employees in the office or on the move, they need the flexibility of being able to use different types of authentication devices and methods in a secure way. HID Global is paving the way for a new era of flexibility in the global workforce today."

Simply put, this statement said it all, since it reflected how the show validated that HID Global understands market requirements by proactively addressing the needs of today's workforce through our comprehensive portfolio of products, solutions, and services. Visitors of our booth at CARTES "got" the power of one source that offers it all ...and they loved it.


As the internet of things becomes more of a reality, HID Global was very excited to announce its new Trusted Tag™ services platform last month.

This new tag product and trust services platform will enable Near Field Communications (NFC) tracking, auditing and origination services that can be used, for example, to confer trust onto documents, protect consumers from counterfeit goods, and enable a multitude of other applications that involve interactions with things. I'd like to tell you a little more about what Trusted Tags are, and how they can be used to improve authentication security and convenience using contactless readers or any NFC-enabled smartphone.

One application is with official documents. Until now, paperwork ranging from marriage and birth certificates to college diplomas and deeds of trust had to be physically signed or notarized by someone acting in a trusted role. Unfortunately, these documents, themselves, have been at risk of forgery and duplication.

Another application is with certificates of authenticity and service warranties for expensive items such as high-end cars. Even if the service document is authentic, it can be difficult to track service history in order to, for example, confirm adherence to compliance requirements, and to perhaps prove that service was performed by an authorized provider to preserve resale value.

Another challenge has been monitoring and authenticating maintenance or service work, chain-of-custody procedures and usage and safety compliance for industrial equipment.

Perhaps there is also the need to more easily and reliably authenticate luxury products such as watches, and other unique items including original works of art, for insurance or provenance purposes.

All of these interesting applications show how interconnected and interactive our daily lives have become with things. Fortunately, the confluence of ubiquitous wireless networks, NFC tag technology and NFC smartphones allows us to solve this problem.

Everything changes with our new cloud-based Trusted Tag services platform. This platform enables authentication tags to be created and attached to an object or document with an electronically signed and cryptographically secure digital certificate of authenticity. The tags are impossible to clone or duplicate, and can also be embedded in an item or incorporated in tamper-resistant stickers that can also be attached to products and equipment. Users can verify authenticity with complete confidence at any time in the lifetime of the item carrying the tag. For artwork, the Trusted Tag services platform enables artists to simply "sign" their canvasses with a digitally encrypted NFC tag. Galleries, museums and auction houses can use Trusted Tags for a variety of purposes, from confirming provenance to recording restoration work to issuing insurance reports.

The HID Trusted Tag Services platform includes a variety of tags, inlays and card solutions as well as the HID Trusted Tag authentication transaction environment for issuing, managing and revoking tags.

At this time, HID is seeking qualified vertical application partners and developers to help develop specific use-case solutions based on this platform.

I am looking forward to the platform making a big difference in the way we manage our lives. It will accelerate and comingle the management of our interaction of physical objects with our already virtualized daily life of email, social media and other digital activities. Even better, users can instantly verify an item's authenticity wherever they are, using their smartphone, or even record a "like" for a thing. That's it: the Facebook of things.