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A multi-dimensional approach to card security

Optimal access card security requires a multi-dimensional approach for identity validation, and a multi-layered approach for the systems that are used to issue them.  The latest advances enable issuers to better protect the integrity of each credential, cardholder, and the overall issuance system.

January 15, 2013  By Alan Fontanella

Most ID card issuance systems rely on two-dimensional identity validation, which compares 1) the person presenting credentials with 2) a variety of identifying data that is displayed on the card.  The industry has evolved beyond a simple photo ID to including sophisticated elements that provide more trustworthy visual authentication while acting as deterrents against tampering and forgery.  These elements include higher-resolution images, holographic card overlaminates, and laser-engraved permanent personalization attributes on the cards that make forgery and alteration virtually impossible.
Digital components, such as smart card chips or magnetic stripes, add a third security dimension.  In addition, expanded data storage on the card makes it possible to include biometric and other information, which further enhances the validation process.  Even with the most advanced techniques, though, security staff and law enforcement personnel must maintain rigorous diligence and training procedures in order to combat would-be counterfeiters who use advanced tools and materials to circumvent credential requirements.
In addition to protecting cards and cardholders, it is important to optimize the integrity of the overall issuance system through a multi-layered approach.  The first system security layer should limit unauthorized operator access to physical components. Electronic security is a critical second layer. Ideally, operator access to each printer is controlled via personal identification numbers (PINs), and print job data packets should meet or exceed advanced encryption standards to ensure system privacy, integrity and authentication to the final issuance endpoint. The third layer is to ensure automatic elimination of personal data on used print ribbon panels. Some card printers also include integrated sensors so that only authorized printers can use custom print ribbons and holographic card overlaminates.
Together, the combination of multi-dimensional card security with multi-layered issuance system security provides the best available defense against tampering, forgery and other fraudulent acts.  By following these practices, virtually any organization can cost-effectively raise the security of its credentials and issuance systems to the highest standards.

Alan Fontanella is vice-president of product marketing for secure issuance with HID Global.

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