Innovative and sophisticated security printing solutions leveraging security features, advanced technologies, and unique materials lay the foundation for document security.
Simply stated, they reduce the risk of the card or holder's data being altered, copied, or reproduced.
Identity documents with an elaborate design are the pride of both the country and the citizens and are immediately recognized as trustworthy evidence of identification.
Let's dig in.
Document security features: goals
Security features can help verify by providing intuitive and easy to verify elements that are visible with the naked eye or by touch (tactile effects) and protect both the document structure and personal data.
The objective is to help an Immigration or Border Control Officer to answer two main questions. The third one can be answered by fingerprint matching or facial recognition.
- Is the document genuine?
- Is the citizen's data authentic?
- Is the person present the true owner of this document?
So what are we talking about?
ID levels in the security printing industry
Levels of Identity Security
Four recognized security levels could be implemented in identification documents.
It sounds simple. And it is.
Level 1 Security
The first level (overt) relates to security features that the public can easily check (in KYC checks, for example) without special aids.
Level 2 Security
Second-level (covert) relates to security features that can be checked with simple aids, such as magnifiers and UV-lamps.
Level 3 Security
Third-level (forensic) security features are for qualified forensic laboratories and other sophisticated laboratory equipment.
Level 4 Security
The fourth security level is secret and includes safety measures known only to a narrow range of experts, in many cases the manufacturer only.
Level 1 document security features: your front door key
The main principle of these security features is that fraud will preferably be detected at level 1- with the naked eye – and with close attention paid to alteration of personal information.
Watch some of our features on level 1 and Level 2 in our video.
The document is also protected against counterfeiting following the same principle.
Thales is highly experienced in security design and will propose, per customer requirements, a solution that delivers maximum protection against forgery, counterfeiting, and unlawful personalization.
The documents will also be manufactured using directly applicable techniques that are highly effective in this respect.
Three groups of security features
Three groups of security features can be implemented:
1. Security Features that are difficult to copy
- Security printing
- Optically variable features
- Non-printed security - elements such as holograms and surface structures
2. Security Features that are difficult to produce
- Security printing
- Optical effects
- Surface structures
3. Technologies/materials that are difficult to come by
- Certain printing technologies
- Security paper
- Special holograms
- Special high-security inks
Digital security: the 5th dimension
Digital security is the 5th level we did not mention earlier. It's a dimension unseen by the naked eye but real.
Think about this for a moment.
Electronic identity documents such as national ID cards or ePassports equipped with a microprocessor and secure applications offer an additional dimension of security to the physical features.
It is because secured digital data is virtually impossible to alter and allows reliable automated verification and easy machine readability.
The micro-controller included in the passport, for example, represents a highly secure feature in itself.
The best part?
If a counterfeiter successfully manages to change the portrait and citizen information on the data page, the data in the chip cannot be accessed and altered.
Any tampering attempt can be detected since the altered data will not compute correctly, as it has not been signed and authorized by the Issuing Authority.
If fingerprints are stored in the chip, a simple biometric matching can be done to verify the document to the person presenting it.
Smart security features
- Use of the latest cryptography to secure the data
- In-house developed end-to-end applications
- Biometric data for secure identification
- Highest level of privacy and security
- Confidential communication by contact or contactless, or both (dual interface)
Secure application features
- Secure data storage, identification, authentication, and digital signature
- Protection by PIN or biometric authentication
- Multi-usage of electronic cards for identification, travel, payment, and much more
- Automated verification
Yes, you've got it.
Security features and the microprocessor in the card or passport can create a powerful combination to authenticate the document and the holder's data.
Where do we fit?
Thales has a background of secure government printing dating back to 1886 with the acquisition of Setec, formerly Finland's National Printing House, in 2005.
Level 2 security feature: UV ink – here, you can see the edge of a passport under ultraviolet light.
Printing expertise includes banknotes, stamps, and identity documents with a long track record in innovation.
Thales has five certified security printing sites worldwide (ISO 14298 INTERGRAF).
As a result, the company can offer clients unrivaled business continuity and global supply chain integrity for the production of a wide range of innovative documents, including ePassports and eID cards.
Typically, Thales works together with its client's security features experts to make the best possible selection of features to match the client's needs.
The goal is that the product and its authenticity can be indisputably trusted.
This goal is achieved using technologies that make documents impossible to copy, using several different techniques, using each technology at the highest available quality and level, and using rare means and materials with limited availability.
In other words, Thales uses technologies and materials that are difficult to copy, difficult to use, and challenging to come by.
More resources on ID security with our web dossiers
- How to design a passport in 2021?
- Security printing: Why paper still matters
- Identity fraud protection: Transparent elements for secure ID design
- How to outsmart fraudsters on passport data page hinge - More tips on secure passport design
- Why are eID and ePassport documents more secure? Visit our smart cards, 101 web dossier.