Project Overview

Despite the increase in email and other forms of digital communication, the use of printed documents continues to increase every year. Many types of printed documents need to be "secure" or traceable to the printer that was used to print them. Printed material is a direct accessory to many criminal and terrorist acts. Examples include forgery or alteration of documents used for purposes of identity, security, or recording transactions. In addition, printed material may be used in the course of conducting illicit or terrorist activities. Examples include instruction manuals, team rosters, meeting notes, and correspondence. In both cases, the ability to identify the device or type of device used to print the material in question would provide a valuable aid for law enforcement and intelligence agencies. We also believe that average users need to be able to print secure documents, for example boarding passes and bank transactions.

The goals of our work are to securely print and trace documents on low cost consumer printers such as inkjet and electrophotographic (laser) printers. We propose to develop two strategies for printer identification. The first strategy is passive. It involves characterizing the printer and finding intrinsic features in the printed output that are characteristic of that particular printer, model, or manufacturer's products. We call this the intrinsic signature. The second strategy is active. Here we embed an extrinsic signature in every printed page. This signature is generated by modulating the process parameters in the printer mechanism to encode identifying information, such as the printer serial number and date of printing, in every printed page.

Our Sponsors

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants No. CCR-0219893 and 0524540-CNS. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (NSF).