The use of forensic features for security purposes has risen dramatically over the years. As digital technologies grow, we must acknowledge that the security tools used to protect privileged data held on digital platforms must grow too.
We have put together some information about the existing position of forensic security levels in order to understand and estimate where biometric identification changes and overt security features will come into play in the future.
The breakdown of forensic security levels
There are several levels of forensic security features. From those that are visible to the naked eye, to more covert features that require specialised equipment and even forensic decoding.
Overt features are typically visible and tactile to touch. Some examples of overt features include holograms, thermochromic dots, polymer and raised print, foil patches, security threads, watermarks, and paper with coloured cores.
Covert features are not visible or tactile to the untrained eye. Using specialised tools such as UV lights, magnifying glasses and even digital processing equipment, specialists will be able to read covert security features such as fluorescence, infra-red inks, micro text and even nano-coding.
Forensic features are at the top end of the scale and most commonly are only accessible by a pre-authorised group of people. Forensic security features are mostly readable through lab-based equipment because of their chemical-based nature. Examples of forensic security features include biochemical fingerprints, nano-optical structures (monitoring light structures on a nanometre scale) and taggants (a microscopic customised chemical marker).
Not to be forgotten, digital forensic features are formed of extensive codes and document DNA that require specialised metadata and data recovery sequences to de-crypt.
Some of the modern technologies we use to protect your data
- Holograms – etched into prismatic foil and embossed onto certificates, visas, licenses and other brand protection.
- Invisible Ultra-Violet (UV) inks – invisible to the naked eye, most commonly show yellow, blue or red under a UV lamp or torch.
- Chemically reactive sensitised coating – A reactive chemical surface that shows up any attempts to make alterations.
- Latent images – hidden images that can be embedded into photographs or tints and are only viewable using a specialised decoding tool.
- Taggant inks – Printed as an invisible ink, or added to existing base coloured inks, the feature is read using a small hand-held reader that beeps upon detection.
- Rainbow fibres – Invisible fibres that incorporate multiple fluorescent colours that are embedded into paper.
- Watermarks – Watermark images are created by condensing the paper fibres – the more condensed the paper fibres, the darker the watermark image.
There are numerous options and combinations available, our customers have the opportunity to build a totally bespoke and unique document.
To find out more about what we can do for you, contact us.
The development of communication technologies – advanced technology
When it comes to technology there are already several digital forensic security features built into our everyday lives.
Most computers, phones and smart devices are protected by passwords, as well as facial and fingerprint recognition being the norm in most devices manufactured after 2013, but it doesn’t stop there, with almost all of our online accounts being password protected and some even hosting two-factor authentication.
Print is no different and in fact, in 2016 we saw the Bank of England begin to roll out polymer notes with the fiver, and more recently in 2020, we saw the roll-out of the polymer £20 note.
Although the benefits of the change over were linked to reduced carbon impact, improved cleanliness and longer-lasting banknotes, an additional benefit to the polymer banknotes is the enhanced security.
What does the future hold for forensic security?
The future of facial recognition and biometrics – Both of these security features have played pivotal roles in the digitisation of modern technology and with a vastly growing database there is no doubt that these technologies will be developed to surveillance for much larger authority figures to protect the public with high-quality facial recognition.
The future of banknotes – Although the use of cash is on a steady decline, the Bank of England confirms that cash is still a critical way for people to pay and to keep the economy going, confirming that at the time of publishing there was over £70 billion worth of banknotes in circulation. The Bank of England has also confirmed that debit cards have in fact overtaken cash as the most commonly used payment method. Despite this, cash is still an attractive payment method for anonymity, efficiency and budgeting. Meanwhile, there has been increasing discussion surrounding the rise of bitcoin, and its possible replacement of cash in the future. This discussion has been steadily muted on the basis of cryptocurrencies unpredictability. In the meantime, the majority of cryptocurrencies or crypto assets are as investments only.
The future of passports – Passports have increasingly evolved over the years to document an increasing amount of information about the identity of the holder. As we continue to move towards the digitisation of documents there is no doubt that eventually, the passport as we know it today will end up taking a much different form. Following the World Economic Forum’s rollout of the Known Traveller Digital Identity (KTDI) initiative, in which governments from Canada and the Netherlands trialled an agreement allowing passengers to travel without documentation between the two countries with nothing but their smartphone and ‘digital identity’. With this in mind, it is said that biometric identification will soon replace the need for printed passports as a means of identification.
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