Guest article provided by IDEMIA.

We caught up with Thomas Poreaux, Head of ID Document Products at IDEMIA, to find out more about their security features and their innovations for identity documents.

Could you tell us about IDEMIA’s LASINK™ technology? How is IDEMIA contributing to the security of identity documents?

Document fraud has a history of evolving rapidly, despite the tremendous prevention measures that are continually being enforced by issuing authorities and document manufacturers. Part of this is because fraudsters have access to sophisticated equipment and materials that allow them to create seemingly authentic ID documents.

An ID document’s portrait is the crucial link between the credential and the person claiming to be the bearer. So, when it comes to authenticating an ID document, the focus is always on the main portrait, and this is precisely why it is a target for fraudsters.

At IDEMIA, we strive to stay one step ahead of fraudsters. For our cutting-edge ID documents, we use a polycarbonate material that makes the documents robust and durable. The polycarbonate build-up is made up of layers of plastic materials that overlap and intertwine. Separating the layers is impossible because they are fused together under immense pressure at a high temperature.

In addition to that, we use an exclusive personalisation technique with our LASINK™ Origin solution, to securely laser engrave primary colour portraits directly into the inner layers of the polycarbonate structure. As polycarbonate cannot be delaminated, it is nearly impossible for fraudsters to falsify the portrait without destroying the card completely. IDEMIA’s personalisation technique is a secret and therefore prevents the use of stolen blank documents, as they cannot be properly personalised without our software.

IDEMIA’s LASINK™ family is made up of LASINK™ Origin for primary colour portraits and LASINK™ Helios and LASINK™ 3D for secondary portraits.

Today, LASINK™ Origin is the most popular and commonly used technology to laser engrave colour portraits into ID documents. Currently, there are 20 million ID documents in circulation worldwide, notably in Morocco, Costa Rica, Colombia, Estonia, Latvia and others that incorporate IDEMIA’s LASINK™ technology. By 2025, it will be approximately 60 million.

How can the security of identity documents be enhanced to counteract the threat of counterfeiting?

As I mentioned previously, the primary portrait is the most attacked feature on an ID document. LASINK™ Origin is as close as you can get to a tamper-proof solution to protect the portrait.

Another element that makes LASINK™ so unique is that a high level of expertise is necessary for the accurate implementation of this technology:

· During the manufacturing process, a special colour matrix, made up of thin lines, is printed on a layer of the blank polycarbonate document. Right now, there is no other printing technology (inkjet, dye sublimation, retransfer, standard laser etc.) that is able to reproduce LASINK’s™ pattern.

· The bearer’s colour photograph is processed by the LASINK™ Image Generator to create a grayscale view of the portrait.

· A high-definition laser engraver personalises the grayscale portrait with the exact registration of the colour matrix, revealing the colour portrait at the core of the polycarbonate document.

Also, greater security can be achieved if you facilitate document authentication for everyone: experts and non-experts. Colour portraits generated by LASINK™ are easier to authenticate, as flesh tones are better perceived by the human eye than grayscale hues.

Furthermore, the structure of LASINK™ generates a unique moiré effect when viewed through a dedicated lens that cannot be imitated with any other colour portrait technologies. And finally, for forensic examination, we included specific security features than can be authenticated using a microscope.

What will be the role of physical ID documents in the future?

Merging physical and digital, what is known as ‘phygital’, is today’s reality. A secure, foolproof digital ID is often derived from a physical ID. Therefore, it is fundamental that the physical ID document is up-to-date, modern and as secure as possible. An ID needs to provide the same level of trust and confidence in the digital world as it does in the physical world―it is official proof that a person is who they claim to be. A trusted physical document is a solid basis from which a secure digital identity is often created.

To help with verification, IDEMIA’s ID documents are developed for Optical Machine Authentication to enable secure, reliable, and fast authentication with maximum convenience. In recent years, we have seen a significant increase in the use of digital services, which means that the number of use cases where an individual’s identity document needs to be verified is also rising. For example, when someone wants to open an online bank account, it is mandatory by law to verify the applicant’s identity. This is why we have developed pioneering technology that automates the authentication of LASINK™ security features. All you have to do is scan the ID document using a scanner or a smartphone, and the software will tell you instantly if it is genuine or not.