Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Paper Has A Fingerprint

Earlier this year the Princeton University Center for Information Technology Policy published a paper titled - Fingerprinting Blank Paper Using Commodity Scanners.  In other words, paper has a unique fingerprint that can be used to validate vital records such as birth and death certificates.  This technology potentially provides another opportunity to reduce identity crimes due to counterfeit paper documents.

The abstract of the paper states:

This paper presents a novel technique for authenticating physical documents based on random, naturally occurring imperfections in paper texture. We introduce a new method for measuring the three-dimensional surface of a page using only a commodity scanner and without modifying the document in any way. From this physical feature, we generate a concise fingerprint that uniquely identifies the document. Our technique is secure against counterfeiting and robust to harsh handling; it can be used even before any content is printed on a page. It has a wide range of applications, including detecting forged currency and tickets, authenticating passports, and halting counterfeit goods. Document identification could also be applied maliciously to de-anonymize printed surveys and to compromise the secrecy of paper ballots.