The focus at Fargo Electronics is squarely on desktop ID card printers and consumables but some might be surprised to know that it is the consumables that make up the larger share of the company’s revenue. In a market where unit sales growth is relatively gradual, new revenue streams and ways to provide more to — and thus earn more from – existing customers is key. This is likely one reason behind Fargo’s new Print Security Suite. The other reason, as the company’s new tagline states, is “because your ID is only as secure as the system that creates it.”
According to Fargo’s VP of Sales and Marketing Kathleen Phillips, “most theft or misuse of card printing equipment and supplies is internal.” We have all heard the stories: staff members creating fraudulent driver licenses in exchange for payments, blank card stock being stolen from secure printing facilities, even printers and encoders disappearing when the office is closed and locked down. The stakes are higher than ever before and the need to stop all theft and misuse—whether external or internal—is paramount.
The Print Security Suite addresses the problem of fraudulent card production and other forms of misuse with a series of new or improved initiatives. Key aspects of the suite are described in the following section.
Password control at the printer
Expanded password requirements at the printer itself can help to deter unauthorized printing. By requiring an operator to enter his or her password at the printer at administrator-controlled intervals. It could be once per hour, after a certain amount of down time, or even before every print. This can reduce or eliminate the common problem of an active system left ready-to-use though unwatched periodically during a workday.
Print notification and operator schedule restrictions
Additional security comes from restricting the times that your operators are authorized to print IDs. If office hours are the only times when the system should be used, the printer can be disabled during other times. The printer can even be set to notify the office manager or security personnel via email or page if someone attempts use during a prohibited time. And each employee’s authorized times can be set individually for maximum protection.
A new florescent blue panel on the printer ribbon adds a new level of security to printed cards by enabling special information (e.g. logo, image, print date) to be added to the card that can only be seen under a ultra-violet light source. This covert technique is not available to the naked eye so it can be a powerful means to protect against fraudulent card usage and it can also provide important forensic data (e.g. date, time, and location of printing) when a card is confiscated.
Securing the consumables
But perhaps the most significant security measure centers around “keying the consumables to the specific printer or printers,” say Ms. Phillips. By embedding a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag into each printer ribbon, the printer can ‘communicate’ with the ribbon cartridge. And by presetting and locking the range of numbers that the printer will consider valid, stolen printers and stolen ribbons are virtually worthless to the thief. Fargo has named this new protection against counterfeit card creation, SecureMark™.
“In essence,” says Ms. Phillips, “we are creating a closed loop supply chain.” When a new printer is deployed it is setup with an acceptable range of cartridge numbers. When new supplies are ordered, the RFID tags are encoded with a number matching this range. Only the printer’s registered owner is authorized to obtain ribbons in this range. Thus, someone attempting to obtain new supplies for a stolen printer would be unable to do so. Furthermore, stolen supplies cannot be used in other printers so your consumables are also safer. This is particularly crucial when security techniques such as holograms and special laminates are in use.
Increasing ease of operation
The Print Security Suite also adds to the user convenience of the system. A single button in the driver automatically exports full details on the printers configuration in order to make it easier to support the printer and troubleshoot problems. The process of ordering supplies is also eased as the system tracks the number of prints remaining on a ribbon and notifies the operator when it is time to reorder.
The new Print Security Suite is available as an option with Fargo’s new DTC 400 Direct-to-Card Printer and Encoder. The DTC 400 is a powerful, easy to use printer with a suggested retail price of US$2895. With security becoming an increasingly important part of the buying decision process, it is likely that we will see the Print Security Suite in more and more of the company’s printer models in the future.