Smith describes the secure badge market as “rapidly growing,” and he encourages dealers who aren’t in it to strongly consider it. He reminds dealers that anytime you can sell a wider variety of security solutions to your customers, the more they will rely on you for advice and come back for repeat business. Besides, the supplies in a badge system produce recurring revenue and an opportunity to stay in regular contact with the customer.
Dealer integrators are also astutely aware however, that just because a market is growing and potentially lucrative doesn’t mean there aren’t pitfalls. Certainly, curious customers will want to know what can go wrong before they commit their money.
If you look at the process of making a secure badge, distributing it to its rightful owner, and then keeping it secure for the duration of its proper use, which part would you think is most vulnerable to exploitation? In other words, what’s the weakest link in the chain of events that make and keep a badge secure? Unfortunately, the most common answer to this question is “people.” It could be something as simple as leaving a password out in plain view or forgetting to lock up badge materials during off hours. It could also be more deliberate such as not taking the badge system seriously and not enforcing the standards that are already in place (like not confronting a person who isn’t wearing a badge).
“The security dealer is often the consultant to the customer,” says Olson. “It is in your best interest to give the customer a fully secure solution, and explain the vulnerabilities of any system you install.”
Microtext – Font that can’t be seen without a magnifying glass. Font this small can’t be produced without a commercial-grade printer.
Guilloche (“gee-oh-sh”) – A series of wavy lines generated by complex mathematical formulas. A guilloche cannot be copied or recreated without knowing the specific formula. (Look closely at one of the bills in your wallet, you’ll see guilloche patterns.)
UV ink – This ink is invisible unless viewed under UV (ultraviolet) light. There is also infrared ink which performs in a similar manner.
Overlaminate – A clear, plastic coating typically applied by heat and pressure which protects the badge.
Optically variable device (OVD) – Material that changes appearance when viewed from different angles.
Hologram – A hologram is an OVD. It is difficult to tamper with the layers of a badge without visibly damaging the hologram. There are two types of holograms: surface-mounted and embedded. (An embedded hologram is more secure than a surface-mounted one.)
Counterfeiting Made Easy
While counterfeiting state-of-the-art ID badges is becoming increasingly difficult, it is becoming easier to counterfeit the techniques of yesteryear’s best badges. Plus, there are a bunch of websites, many of which are offshore, that will produce counterfeited badges for you (such as ID badges specifically for large, well-known U.S. corporations). Of course, with the widespread use of scanners, laser printers, photo software, and the ability to buy almost anything on eBay, many people simply make their own counterfeits.
Five or six years ago, holograms would have been one of the most secure features to put on a badge, says Phillips. “Today that’s probably one of the least secure. Believe it or not, with just photo software like PhotoShop or CorelDraw, and a little nail polish, you can create a pretty cool hologram—it’s scary!”