A new method for improving the security of identification cards or passports has been designed by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the University of Connecticut.
In the new approach, a block of encrypted information – such as the bearer’s fingerprint pattern or other unique personal facts – can be concealed within a picture on a document.
Because this information is relevant to the bearer alone, use of the ID by a person resembling the cardholder is easily revealed. Since only the issuer knows the complex keys used to encrypt and decrypt the hidden information, it would be extremely difficult to forge an ID that would pass through the system.
According to Professor Joseph Rosen at BGU’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the new development combines of two well-known methods of representing data.
One is the halftone image, a two-dimensional (2D) pattern of larger and smaller dots used in reproducing pictures. The other is a 2D barcode, in which a checkerboard of tiny dots and spaces represents digital information.
A 2D barcode comprised of small dots can record much more information than the string of lines and is an inexpensive way to provide extensive data about a person or a manufactured product.
In this new development, Professor Rosen and his colleague Professor Bahram Javidi of the University of Connecticut have combined the 2D-halftone image and barcode by slightly shifting the positions of the arrangement halftone dots.
The concealed barcode information can be retrieved using a 2D spatial correlator, which contains a confidential filter function that deciphers the concealed image.
The new technology, Rosen claims, is very robust as even a damaged ID picture or a half-covered picture contains sufficient hidden data to retrieve the encrypted information. This is because the entirety of secret data is distributed throughout the picture.
Another advantage of this development is that both optical and computational approaches can be used to reveal the hidden data.