Several hundred different physical security technologies are available on the market. Overt technologies are meant to be readily visible to the buyer in order to verify that a product is authentic. A well known example of overt technology are holograms on the product or the package. Covert features, on the other hand, are designed to be invisible to the buyer or anyone outside the few individuals who are part of the brand owner’s security team. Covert features can range from inproduct taggants to invisible inks or cryptographic features in the printing design on the package or label substrate. Technologies vary widely in their level of security, which is typically determined by the ease with which they can be duplicated or simulated by unauthorized persons. High security technologies are typically limited in their availability to the market and/or very difficult to produce as a result of the production process itself.
To secure packaging materials and products, two families of authentication technologies are in use, physical and logical security features:
- Logical security features are based on encryption technologies, allowing the integration of hidden data into images/ artworks (steganography/ digital watermarks) and supporting the authentication of the product. It is also possible to register the surface structure of a packaging material which is unique. With this data, an individual “fingerprint” of each individual packaging item can be made.
- Physical security features are substances or products which are introduced into, or attached to packaging materials and/ or products. The presence of these security substances is verified to authenticate the protected item. As the manufacturing process of security products is secret and its availability strictly limited, it is very difficult to counterfeit products secured in this way.