Document Security

The 5 known threats

The first task is to establish a customer-specific threat profile. This should be based on known threats.

Just as important is good collaboration at the security design stage between the customer and supplier. Above all else this should ensure that the new passport is protected properly against the five main threats.


#1 Counterfeiting

is the complete reproduction of the document.


This can involve:

  • Using substitute materials to imitate original documents (paper, polycarbonate)
  • Scanning a valid document for modification using computer software
  • Reproduction of background and logos using alternative printing technologies
  • Final lamination using commercial laminates
  • Re-creating the document using computer software
  • Using original material that may be commercially available


#2 Alteration

is where fraudsters try to change the data in a genuine document.

Typically this includes:

  • Photo alteration or substitution
  • Alteration of the biographical data, in the visual or machine readable zone (MRZ)
  • Deletion of entries on visa/observations pages
  • Mechanical and chemical erasure of biographical data
  • Delaminating attacks
  • Alteration of the personalization data on the data page. For example, additional marking on top of the existing personalization data, or the application of a thin foil overlay to alter it.


#3 Recycling

In this case, we're afraid, recycling isn't a good thing.

It involves the creation of fraudulent documents, using material from legitimate documents, and the removal and substitution of entire pages or visas.

How will the fraudsters do this fake passport?

  • Removing security features from a genuine document for reuse in a falsified one
  • Using "recycled" genuine passport security features in a new falsification
  • Interchanging pages between one passport and another


#4 Stolen Passport or ID

This is the theft of an original, genuine blank document. It could take place at any stage of the passport life cycle, from manufacture right through to the point of personalization - during transit or in storage. Fraudulent passports in that case can be very hard to detect because they are genuine documents.

It's obvious, but needs stressing...

...the integrity of manufacturing, transportation, storage and accounting of blank documents is critical to the entire security chain.

Using a combination of advanced technologies for personalization forces fraudsters to try and master them all.

To ensure reliable tracking, we recommend numbering all travel documents at the end of the manufacturing process.

Reporting is also key. Interpol shares data on 250,000 stolen or lost Syrian and Iraqi passports, including blank documents.


#5 Genuine document belonging someone else

Examples of this include:

  • An unauthorized person using a valid genuine passport
  • Use of registered lost or stolen documents by look-alikes of the real holder
  • Cloning logical data from a similar looking person

It might appear difficult to address these threats at the document level.

However, the danger of a stolen passport can be minimized by using a high quality personalization technology to additional personalized elements including the repeated occurrence of the holder's portraitin several places in the document.

And don't forget the core benefit of an ePassport.

This allows the identity of the holder to be compared with his/her biometric data (such as finger prints and facial image), as stored in the microcontroller, and the convenient use of databases such as Interpol 's Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database.