To Badge or Not to Badge

No question, dealer integrators need to get in on the growing market segment.



Many security features are available today to embed in a badge’s material, making the badge harder to tamper with or replicate. Today’s printers and software used to make badges also can enhance the badge’s security by limiting who can print them, when they can be printed, and logging the history (which could be useful if it’s discovered that unauthorized badges had been made using the legitimate equipment).


“You should approach securing a credential the same way you would approach securing a physical building,” says Chris Sincock, vice president of business development, AccessID. For instance, he reasons that you would not rely solely on magnetic contacts to secure a building, so you shouldn’t rely on one method to secure a badge either.
“When we manufacture a card, we do it in layers,” continues Sincock. AccessID puts its RF electronics in the middle sandwiched between two layers of PVC, he explains. They then can do printing with the ability to use multiple technologies, such as UV color ink, microtext, and guilloche (see “Key Terms” on page 72 for definitions).


Magicard printers can print a watermark using the standard dye film overcoat panel through a patented process trademarked Holokote, says Deborah Olson, general manager, Ultra Electronics Magicard. “Typically the customer’s logo is ‘etched’ in a grid pattern across the face of the card in the clear overcoat. The background card design, photo and text on the card are clearly visible, yet there is a subtle watermark-like layer that authenticates the card,” she says.
“The logo is stored on an encryption Holokote key that plugs into a special port on the printer,” Olson explains further. “The keys must be programmed by the factory which provides an extra level of security. The Holokote key can be removed and locked away in a safe to prevent unauthorized printing. When the key is not present, the printer can print cards but without the secure Holokote watermark.”


It’s one thing to have a security badge loaded with secure features embedded in its material, but that only goes so far if somebody who has access to the equipment can make legit badges for people who aren’t supposed to have them. That is why it can be beneficial to have software that tracks when, where, and by whom badges were made. Not only can such software act as a deterrent, but it can help catch someone who is abusing the system.
Smith notes that Datacard offers the full range of products for badge materials, printers, and software. “The card is part of it, but what’s also really important is not just the security of the card, but making sure that only the right cards are in fact made,” he adds. “We have software that allows you to capture and control the production of the cards—and that’s password protected and controlled. We can provide a secure link between the printer and the PC so the two are linked and you can’t print cards off of anything other than that PC.”


Phillips agrees that secure badges require secure printers, secure software, and secure materials all working together. Among Fargo’s products dedicated to these goals, its Print Security Suite software performs a myriad of functions to secure the process of making badges, including the ability to send a text message to the security manager if badges are being made outside of normal business hours.


Another scenario to consider is when a badge is legitimately created for a legitimate person and purpose, but is only good for a temporary period of time, such as for a visitor for one day only. Temtec’s TEMPbadge features “expiring badge” technology, says Dana Milkie, general manager, Brady People ID.
“The expiring technology allows security personnel to issue badges with specific time durations for visitors, contractors and temporary employees,” comments Milkie. “These secure expiring badges incorporate migrating ink technology that changes color over an expected time frame to provide instant visual indication of a visitor’s status.”

Badge Business is Blooming