There are many different security features that should be considered when basic printing on a blank ID card doesn’t provide sufficient security for your application. Some ID card security features can be implemented at a user-level, while others must be added before purchasing the ID cards. In many cases when thinking about security, larger organizations are also looking for ways to improve automation with contactless solutions in a frictionless environment for an enterprise ID system.

Here is a breakdown of the most common ID card security features:

Barcodes

One of the most widely used forms of encoded ID cards and are easy to create, as the information in a barcode can be encoded onto an ID card during the regular ID card printing process. In addition to linear barcodes, two dimensional barcodes, especially QR codes have become very popular for security and automation. In most cases, barcodes are known to provide minimal security unless it is matched with a second form of authentication to ensure the user is authorized for access.

Photo/Picture

If your cards don’t already include the user’s photo, consider adding them. Photographs are one of the most basic security features 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. However when combined with a database where photo is verified as a match for the cardholder this can take security to the next level with a simple barcode, QR code or RFID with HID prox iclass or Mifare technologies. A simple swipe or tap of these technologies can instantly bring up the user record with matching photo on file to compare with the person in front of you or the ID that has been presented for access. With more and more applications relying on 2FA and MFA, knowing what the person looks like can be an important step for verifying the authorized card holder.

Magnetic Stripe

Magstripe cards are PVC ID Badges containing a band of magnetic material embedded in the resin on the back of the card. Magnetic stripe ID cards store updatable information on a magstripe, which is read when the card is swiped through a magnetic stripe card reader. Most mag stripe badges these days use high coercivity (hico) but there are a number of applications which rely on low coervicity (lo-co) cards. Few applications rely on mag stripes these days because they are easy to copy which makes them a popular target for fraud.

Proximity/RFID/Smart Card

Radio frequency transmit/receive electronics (integrated circuit technology) to transfer data. This data transmits securely from a distance, usually just 1-2 inches away for standard read range, but it considered contactless technology. When considering id card security features, keep in mind that proximity cards are unique in that they do not have to be swiped through a physical reader like mag stripes, so they are a convenient solution for secure door access control, as well as for use with time and attendance applications. When in use, a card reader sends out a field that activates the antenna coil which lies within a proximity card, and charges the capacitor. Card information is then transmitted via this antenna coil to the card reader and if the information is found to be accurate access is granted, be it door entry or a monetary purchase. This process is used with low frequency 125Khz technology like HID prox or Mifare, in addition to more secure high frequency 13.56Mhz technology which relies on smart chips for encrypted data on HID iclass Seos and Mifare DesFire EV2 cards. Not all of these credentials are recommended ID badges for secure access control so be sure you are using technology that meets compliance for your industry.

Fluorescent Overlay

This allows you to create highly secure and durable identification cards in one printing cycle without the added cost associated with lamination or overlay varnish. Some key id card security features include reduced risk of counterfeiting, increased durability, unparalleled flexibility, lower costs, and improved efficiency. This visual feature is not visible to the untrained eye unless the badge is held under a UV blacklight.

Hologram

Commonly used today for visual security and authentication features on a variety of identification cards that provide value for the cardholder. Rainbow transmission holograms are formed as surface relief patterns in plastic film, incorporating a reflective aluminum coating that provides light to reconstruct a holographic image. Holograms are virtually impossible to copy because of their unique visual effects. They cannot be replicated by computer scanning/alteration or with color copiers or standard printing equipment, making them a highly secure defense against the threat of fraud or theft by counterfeiters. Custom holograms, as a surface overlay or embedded into the card, are considered to be the most secure for any application that expects this feature to improve actual security.

Microtext

Considered as one of the most difficult to reproduce, micro text printing is commonly used in passports and currencies. ID card security features like microtext are used on highly secure ID cards. Upon visual examination, micro text appears as a regular thin line on an ID badge, 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 pre-printed cards.

Laser Engraving

Laser engraving is a highly secure method of monochrome card personalization that etches features into the card body itself. This provides tamper-proof and highly durable personalization, making forgery and manipulation virtually impossible. Attempts to alter engraved information will result in visually evident card damage.

To learn how ID card security can support your business, request a consultation to be sure you are not relying on legacy technology for security your organization expects for now and the future. We will help you find a better way.