Pitney Bowes thwarts document fraudsters
“Talented fraudsters continue to frustrate private and public sectors with their excellent copies of genuine documents. Finding a way of authenticating personal documentation has become an important goal to eliminate copycat records,” says Michael Springer, MD of Pitney Bowes South Africa.
A Fortune 500 company and one of the first companies in the world to introduce the commercial bar code system, Pitney Bowes has developed an encryption-rich hardware- and software-based platform, pbSecure, which is intended to safeguard against this threat.
“pbSecure is not a new technology on the market, but it definitely is a new application to an existing technology that is a working product,” says Leon van der Merwe, senior solutions consultant at Pitney Bowes.
According to Van der Merwe, pbSecure technology is concerned with the data contained in the document. The information is encrypted and then linked back to the original document, so the information is available in its original form and in the encrypted form. Rather than putting the technology to combat fraud into the actual paper, pbSecure authenticates the information on a specific document, a university degree for example, and encrypts that information in a bar code.
The product's primary function is to authenticate documents, and the bar code is key, says Van der Merwe. The actual device itself is handheld, about the size of a USB, and has a built-in CAM (small encrypting box), which contains the pbSecure technology.
“The pbSecure process has been designed for ease-of-use. The first step entails the creation of the document or product evidence. The data is sent to the CAM device, where it is secured. Once the CAM has encrypted the data, the unique secure bar code containing the encrypted data is generated and then printed on the document or applied on the product that requires authentication,” Springer explains.
“We have also developed a Web interface,” Van der Merwe says. “The bar code comes with a numeric value that can be entered into the Web site, which then references back to the bar code and gives you the original information.” There is also a pbSecure smartphone app with a normal QR scanner that will decrypt the bar code and provide users with the original information.
“This provides the ability to verify documents or products' authenticity even where there is no Internet connection,” says Springer. The app is not yet commercially available, however.
Although the primary target market for pbSecure is larger enterprises, like government departments and tertiary education institutions, Van der Merwe asserts that anyone can benefit from pbSecure.
Springer agrees. “Universities, colleges, government departments, grant-paying agencies, etc, are targeted by fraudsters; pbSecure is an excellent tool to detect fraud in a very simple and efficient way.
“Apart from the fact that the system is extremely cost-effective and easy to use, it will help to give reassurance to the public that important documents can be relied on.”