November 2018

vgourmelen's picture

Window in a PC document: A new trend that is here to stay

The first polycarbonate identity document with a window was launched into the market in 2007. Over the last decade, windows in polycarbonate documents have become progressively one of the most demanded security features alongside rainbow printing, OVI or CLI/MLI.

Maximize a level 1 security feature with a window

Windows offer many benefits: they provide superior protection to the document and data, they constitute an additional technical obstacle to fraudsters and they are easier and faster to check than many other security features. A window is a perfect container for additional strong security features and can also be used to protect personalized data like the secondary portrait of the ID card holder. HID Global’s Mirage™ security feature is the perfect example of how the presence of a window in an ID document can be optimized.

Traditional way of making a window for a card manufacturer

For a polycarbonate identity document manufacturer, making a window using traditional supplies is very cumbersome. The manufacturer will need to punch a hole in the card pre-laminate while assembling and laminating transparent layers of polycarbonate from which he will punch coupons; coupons that will then be used to refill the hole that was previously punched in the pre-laminate. After having modified this pre-laminate to incorporate the window(s), the manufacturer will need to laminate the final card using transparent layers of polycarbonate.

This time-consuming process produces multiple disadvantages and adds costs to manufacturing cards as it requires that a new production line (mostly manual) be set-up. This involves hiring and training people, establishing that production line in a manufacturing facility, and investing in new equipment. On top of all this, the cost related to longer production time (and incidentally smaller production throughput) plus the waste of expensive pre-laminate (particularly if they contain micro-controllers) can be considerable.

Benefits of supplying a pre-laminate with a window

One of the best ways for the card manufacturer to avoid these costs is to source a pre-laminate that already incorporates the window(s). The pre-laminate manufacturer will be responsible for the process of creating the window in the pre-laminate. The card manufacturer then only needs to use transparent layers of polycarbonate to print the security background and laminate the finished card. The same process and equipment needed to laminate a card without a window can still be used, saving the card manufacturer significant time and money.

Benefits of HID Skylam™

HID Global’s pre-laminate, Skylam™, incorporates window(s) and is available in contactless, dual-interface and non-electronic interfaces. With Skylam, any card manufacturer or national printer already working with polycarbonate would be able to produce high-end and secure cards with windows in a record time, while meeting the most stringent international durability standards. Thanks to an innovative manufacturing process, Skylam can be delivered with multiple windows, including those with complex shapes and angles, in a very cost-effective manner.

Skylam pre-laminates perfectly accommodate additional security features such as HID Global’s Mirage™, arguably the most unique level 1 security feature on the market today, making top-notch security more widely availab le on a global scale.  Click here to learn more about HID Skylam.

othiriondebriel's picture

On 27th October, Karachi-based BankIslami became the target of one of the most devastating cyber-attack in Pakistan. It admitted a security breach of its payment cards system but denied having lost an alleged amount of $6 million. Many reports state that the attack consisted of several suspicious Point of Sales transactions made at Target stores in Brazil and in the U.S. To restrain the attacks, the bank has decided to shut down its access to international payment networks.

On top of the direct monetary loss and the loss of business due to the stop of its international payment service, BankIslami brand reputation is suffering in the press compromising its corporate reputation and brand equity which undoubtedly hit their customers’ trust. The exact origin of the hack is not yet totally clear. It seems some magnet stripes of the payment cards have reportedly been skimmed and resold on the dark web. Those who buy those skimmed cards can therefore create exact duplicates of those cards and use them at Point of Sales, ATM but also to make online payments. Some reports also suggest that the internal payment card system of the bank has been hacked for the hackers to authorize those fraudulent transactions they are making.

This story shows multiple flaws. First of all, and it’s a very well-known problem, magnet stripe payment cards are not secured and easy to duplicate, as we can see here. Banks who have not made the decision yet to migrate to EMV cards must increase their security in order to decrease exposure. Implementing multi-factor authentication on the top of magnet stripe payment cards will provide stronger protecting to the users thanks to a push notification sent to the mobile banking app showing all the transaction information followed by simple approval of the transaction. HID Approve from HID Global is a mobile authentication token based on public key cryptography and OTP technology, leveraging push notification functionality for ease of use. The solution embeds mobile application security functionalities like rootkit detection, RASP, code obfuscation, and others for maximum security.

The breach of the bank’s internal payment card system demonstrates lack of security when accessing the system which could be overcome with multi-factor authentication deployed to protect employee’s accesses. On top of that, threat and fraud detection capabilities will allow to detect in real-time cyber-attacks and to investigate on the causes of the attack. The HID® Risk Management Solution from HID Global provides banks with risk-based advanced authentication based on threat and fraud detection capabilities (HID® RMS), an authentication and authorization platform (ActivID® Authentication Platform) and a suite of authentication hardware or software tokens. HID® Risk Management Solution uniquely embeds three different engines (behavioral biometrics, transaction anomaly detection and threat detection) to evaluate the risk in a more comprehensive and precise manner. It quantifies risk level with digital identity sensing technology, a unique set of device fingerprinting and user identification techniques. This makes the solution able to detect with a high level of accuracy a broad range of risks financial organisations are facing.

Banks need to reinforce their security before bad stories happen. It is much more difficult to recover from such attack than preventing this attack to happen.

For more information visit our website

aletan's picture

The recent anniversary of September 11th reminds us that terrorist attacks and threats have risen across the world. Consequently, governments and local and international authorities have invested more resources to secure their borders and their ID documents with the objective of:

  • Controlling the entry and exit of people across borders, and
  • Protecting and authenticating citizen’s identity within the country.

To reinforce the security of a nation, it is important to be able to identify travellers as well as a country’s citizens. This is where ID documents have an important role to play.

It was previously thought that using physical / traditional security features on ID documents was more than enough to prevent ID counterfeiting and forgery attempts, protect the data and authenticate the documents and the identity of the document holders. But today, we face new criminal behaviors in the illegal trade of ID documents. Recent statistics show a rise in fraud all over the world. In fact, according to INTERPOL, 185 passports are stolen or lost every day.

Counterfeited or falsified IDs have also become more and more sophisticated with new technologies and equipment to create false documents. Meanwhile, genuine ID documents are stolen by criminals and either sold to a new owner who looks like the true document holder, or filled-out with an individual's details when blank.

Since these security features alone do not completely protect the identity of the holder, more measures must be taken to make the ID documents more difficult to forge, alter or falsify and to avoid the use of "look alike" passports. This is where biometrics can help to tie an authentic document to an individual.

The physical characteristics or personal traits of a person are unique and an infallible form of identification. They are mostly unchangeable and can be identified very quickly. Biometrics use a person's physical characteristics – finger prints, iris or retina patterns, facial characteristics, even voice prints – to verify the identity of a person.

Since biometric data is unique for each user, it is a very powerful tool that can be used to protect identity documents from counterfeits, falsification and tampering, as well as the look-alike phenomena.

A general enrollment system usually consists of registering the highest quality image templates in a database and the chip, if present. During the control process, travellers’ biometric data can be collected on the spot and compared to the data stored in the chip or in the database.

In counterfeited and tampered documents, the biometric data of the ID holder will not be registered, or it will be different from the enrolled data. For stolen genuine ID documents, which are often used by terrorists to enter countries, biometrics eliminate the ability for someone to use a genuine document that was issued to someone else.

Today, all European Union (EU) passports must include biometric data.  In addition to that, the European Commission has proposed to add two types of biometric data in the ID cards of EU citizens to further safeguard their identities.

The ability to authenticate a person correctly at border control stations and within a country can reduce the risk of false identities and prevent the entry of criminals. Although attacks cannot be avoided, biometrics can help to reinforce proper identification, prevent fraud and be an effective counter-terrorism tool.

jnippoldt's picture

When was the last time you cleaned your ID card printer? Did you know that overlooking this simple and low cost routine maintenance item could be costing your organization money, time and unnecessary aggravation?

Read on to learn more about why it is essential to routinely clean your ID card printer.

Why clean?

Whether you realize it or not, ID card printers are complex devices that operate under tight tolerances and require a clean environment to operate in. If there is any deviation from established tolerances, or cleanliness is not maintained, there is a good chance some type of issue is going to occur. Some issues might just be an annoyance, such as an image that is not as sharp and crisp as it could be. Other issues can be catastrophic, such as when debris gets inside of the printer and contacts the printhead – this situation could potentially damage a pixel on the printhead, resulting in a white line down the length of every card printed on that printer until the printhead is replaced – an expensive, and potentially time consuming, repair.

While some HID FARGO print ribbons come with cleaning rollers, these rollers are only intended to help remove debris from dirty cards and are not sufficient by themselves to keep your printer in good working order. For proper maintenance, cleaning your ID card printer with a HID FARGO Cleaning Kit is required. Good news: cleaning your printer requires minimal cost, time or effort on your part! It is normally as simple as running a few cleaning cards through the card path in the printer and using a “cleaning swab” to clean off the printhead and a few of the rollers in the printer.

A few benefits of routinely cleaning your ID card printer include:

  • Savings – a clean printer operates more efficiently and is less likely to require a major repair that will cost you money or produce defective cards that need to be reprinted. In fact, HID Global data shows that nearly 25% of the printers we receive for warranty related service can be linked to insufficient cleaning.
  • Reduced downtime – a clean printer is less likely to require time and money consuming repairs. When you are waiting for a technician to come and repair your printer, or sending off your printer for repair, you are not able to issue cards. Not only do you have the monetary cost of a repair to deal with, but you have the opportunity cost of not being able to issue cards while your printer is non-functional. More often than not, this opportunity cost greatly exceeds the monetary cost of the repair.
  • Improved image quality – as rollers inside of the printer get dirty, cards are more likely to “slip” while being moved inside of the printer. This can result in images that are not crisp or sharp looking. In addition, if dirt or dust is on the card during the printing process, it could leave an area that is void of image on the card, or worse, damage the printhead.
  • Less aggravation - poor quality prints and/or ribbon breaks can be frustrating. Adjusting printer settings to improve performance is an option, but this is not be a permanent solution if the root cause is a dirty printer.

How often?

How often you should clean your printer varies with the environment the printer is being used in. You may be able to get away with less cleaning when using high-quality cards, such as HID Global FARGO Ultracard or HID Global FARGO Ultracard Premium cards in an office environment.

While never recommended, if you do have to use your printer in a dirty or dusty environment, cleaning should be done with every ribbon change, or even more often. This preventative action will help keep the printer in good working order and help increase the life expectancy of the printer.

In general, a good guideline is to thoroughly clean your ID card printer every 1,000 printed cards. However, to keep things simple for operators to remember, using the rule of “clean the printer with every ribbon change” may be a more effective strategy.

As an example of what can happen to a printer when it is used in challenging conditions, look at these photos.



The printer in these photos has approximately 3,000 cards printed on it and should be “clean” on the inside. Instead, this printer contains more dirt than inside of most 100,000+ card printers we have seen.

The fine dust coating that can be seen in the photos is a potential source of damage to the internal printer components and a common contributor to cards having poor image quality. If a cleaning routine was being applied with every ribbon change to help keep the card path and printhead components of this printer clean, there is a good chance this printer would have made it much longer than 3,000 cards before being sent in to HID Global for an evaluation.

Conclusion