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A Beginner's Guide to Creating Secure ID Cards

A Beginner's Guide to Creating Secure ID Cards

If you have limited experience with ID card production, but were given the important task of updating the security features of your organization's ID cards, you’re probably asking yourself where to begin.

With all the security options and the technical terms that you have to familiarize yourself with, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But fear not - we have created this guide to help you get up to speed quickly. Read on to learn about some of the most common ID security features that you can add to your ID cards to make them more secure and reliable.

ID Security Feature No. 1 – Digital Photos

If your cards don’t already include the user’s photo, consider adding them. Photographs are the most basic security feature that you can add to your ID card, because they offer an easy way to quickly confirm a person’s identity. While photos help reduce the possibility of fraud, they are not foolproof as photographs can be replicated using optical scanners and copiers. They are a good first line of security, nonetheless.

What you’ll need: Your existing ID card printer and supplies.

ID Security Feature No. 2 – Color-coded cards and accessories

Did you know that you can buy blank ID cards and accessories like badge holders and lanyards in specific colors? In addition to presenting branding opportunities, color-coded cards and accessories can serve as a security feature for your ID cards. By assigning unique colors to the ID cards of users with different security clearances, you can quickly identify anyone who does not have the appropriate privilege. This is particularly useful for properties with multiple buildings, warehouses with different types of employees, and at big events with hundreds of attendees.

What you’ll need: Your existing ID card printer + Monochrome ribbon.

ID Security Feature No. 3 – Barcodes

Barcodes are everywhere. You can see them on product labels, shipping boxes, and even on medicine bottles. They have multiple applications, and one of them is increasing ID security. They are very useful for encoding short strings of ID information such as an ID number or account number to an ID card. Note that barcodes don’t store information; rather they represent ID card data that can only be read using a dedicated scanner. In the context of security, a barcode can serve as an additional hurdle for potential forgers because even if they can create fake cards that look authentic, the forged cards wouldn’t scan properly or authenticate without the correct barcode information.

What you’ll need: Your existing ID card printer + Ribbon with black resin (K) panel.

ID Security Feature No. 4 – Ultraviolet (UV) or Fluorescent (F) printing

Ultraviolet or fluorescent printing is a way to add hidden text or images to ID cards, making them almost impossible to copy because ID forgers can’t copy what they don’t know is there. The text or image printed using UV or fluorescent ink is invisible to the naked eye, even to optical scanners, and only becomes visible when a special light is shone on the card.

What you’ll need: An ID card printer that supports ribbons with UV or F panels.

ID Security Feature No. 5 – Ghost image

A “ghost image” is a smaller, semi-transparent copy of a photograph or image printed elsewhere on the ID card. These half-translucent images are made possible by changing the opacity of the 2nd smaller photo on the ID card software prior to printing.

What you’ll need: Your existing ID card printer and supplies.

ID Security Feature No. 6 – Micro text printing

Considered as one of the most difficult to reproduce, micro text printing is commonly used in passports and currencies. This security feature is also used on highly secure ID cards. Upon visual examination, micro text appears as a regular thin line on an ID card, but when inspected using a microscope or magnifying glass, the lines are actually repeating text that say authentic, genuine, or valid. Unlike most add-on security features, micro text printing requires industrial equipment to produce, which limits this option to preprinted cards.

What you’ll need: Cards preprinted with micro text at the factory.

ID Security Feature No. 7 – Magnetic stripes

Magnetic stripes, commonly found on the back of credit cards, can store cardholder information on ID cards. ID information is encoded onto magnetic stripe cards using special encoders during printing. Like barcodes, encoded ID information on magnetic stripe cards is not accessible without a dedicated barcode reader. Moreover, without the encoded information, fake cards would not validate when swiped.

What you’ll need: ID card printers with magnetic stripe encoder + Magnetic stripe cards.

ID Security Feature No. 8 – Smart Cards

Smart cards, which contain small microprocessors and memory chips, work the same way as magnetic stripe cards in the sense that they both store information on the card, they both can be reprogrammed multiple times, and they both require specialized readers to access encoded card information. The major difference and the big advantage that smart cards have over the more affordable magnetic stripe cards is their capacity to store more information, including encryption certificates. That means that even with the right reader, but without the appropriate decryption software or security certificate, the smart card wouldn’t authenticate. Smart cards are available in two versions, contact and contactless.

What you’ll need: ID card printer with smart chip encoder + Smart cards.

ID Security Feature No. 9 – Holograms

Holograms are 3D images that add many different types visual security elements to your ID cards, allowing for quick visual authentication. Holograms are added to ID cards by way of holographic laminates. These are thin transparent films that contain holographic text, images, and patterns. Holograms typically become visible or transform when tilted or viewed at certain angles. Some high-end holographic overlaminates also feature microtext printing for added security.

What you’ll need: ID card printers with laminating module + Holographic Overlaminates.

These are just a sampling of the security features you can add to your existing ID card program to make them more secure. While no single technology can offer 100% security, you can use these security features together to achieve the level of security that best fits your needs.

For expert assistance in enhancing the security of your ID cards, call our ID security experts at 1-800-667-1772today. You can also reach us via e-mail.

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