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Our Speaker
Ian Lancaster
Reconnaissance International
Security Document Expert
Reconnaissance International Associate
eID Forum Partners

Meet our Speaker: Ian Lancaster

I have over 35 years experience in the holography, authentication and anti-counterfeiting technologies industries as maker, commentator, analyst, consultant and conference director. I was the founder of Third Dimension Ltd, a manufacturer of decorative holograms, followed by 2 years as Executive Director of New York’s Museum of Holography, then was co-founder of Reconnaissance International and its Managing Director for 25 years. I retired from Reconnaissance in 2015 and now have a number of clients as a consultant and non-executive director. I am an Expert Assessor for the EU’s Horizon 2020 R & D fund (although I wonder for how much longer in a Brexit environment). I was General Secretary of the International Hologram Manufacturers’ Association from 1993-2015, representing the hologram and authentication industries on the International Standards Organisation security technical committees. I was Project Leader for ISO 22382, a new standard on tax stamps and a lead writer of ISO 14298 (Security Print and Foil Production Management) and 12931 (Product Authentication). I have received the IHMA’s Brian Monaghan Award for Achievement, the Russian Optical Society’s Denisyuk Medal and the Blue Shield Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Chinese Secure Identification Union.

eTalk: Why Physical Documents Remain Important

Although it is often said that humans are the weak link in the chain of security, the reality is that our human senses continue to be an essential tool in authenticating documents. This statement raises the question, though, of how this can be in a digital world, and what is the point of those documents that need authenticating. The answer revolves around involvement, perception and trust.
It is obvious that humans cannot understand the type of codes that are increasingly used in product traceability, digital transactions and identity storage systems. We have no way of either deciphering the information contained in a code such as a data matrix or QR code nor of detecting whether any one printed code is correct. Human perception is remarkably accurate in detecting even very small variations in human portraits but much less so in perceiving variations between abstract patterns – and what is more abstract than a square comprising lots of small squares? So although we can’t tell whether such a code is genuine or not, we trust our digital systems to tell us whether something is genuine, or whether a person is who they claim to be. We trust that the code will instruct a device (e.g. smartphone) to connect to the correct and uncorrupted data source to return an accurate response, but the human user of that system has no way of knowing that this is what is happening – we simply trust that it is.
Which points us to the role of human perception in a world of digital systems. A trained person with the right tools – tools which start with the human senses and move through tools to assist those senses to proprietary or forensic tools (and note a trained person, not an ordinary member of the public) is remarkably good at identifying fake documents. So in this paper, I will expand on and justify these assertions and propose ways in which this human quality and physical documents might interact with the digital world for better security.

Main goals of this speech:

  • The role of human perception in document security

  • The role of physical documents as we transition to digital systems

  • The logic for the human-physical-digital interface

Suomen Tilaajavastuu Ou
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