Covert security features are among the most secure features. However other factors must be considered while choosing the most appropriate features such as target audience, deployment complexity and cost. Discover below the most well-known features and compare them to your needs.


The following features will be assessed:

  • AlpVision Fingerprint®
  • Cryptoglyph®
  • Fluorescence
  • Product Fingerprint (unique)
  • Raman spectroscopy
  • RFID – Radio Frequency identification
  • Secured QR code
  • Thermochromic ink


More details about those features can be found in the covert anti-counterfeiting web page on AlpVision web site. Digital Watermark has been excluded as it is not suitable for product authentication purposes.

The following subjects will be covered:

  • Target audience
  • Application type
  • Security
  • Cost – including reader cost
  • Deployment complexity


We will then conclude with a general recommendation regarding most adapted technologies. If you are still at the beginning of the selection process, I recommend that you download our whitepaper in order to learn more about:

  • Definition of the problem
  • Scope of the anti-counterfeiting technology
  • Questions to ask to your future supplier
  • Overview of AlpVision technologies


Selecting your covert security features based on your target audience

Depending on your business case you may want detection of the feature to be performed by the following group of people. There may be others but most of our customers fall into one of these groups:

  • Internal and External Inspectors
  • Customs
  • Consumers


Internal/external inspectors and custom groups can both use all listed technologies. Consumers on the other hand can only use AlpVision Fingerprint, Cryptoglyph, Secured QR code and thermochromic inks. All the other listed technologies require specific detection devices that are not available to the general public. The four suitable technologies only require a smartphone for the three first and a finger for the last one.


Application type: which feature for which application

Depending on your requirements the item you want to protect may be:

  • Printed product part, such as packaging, labels, …
  • Product itself
  • Digital product


Digital products are out of this article scope.

Printed products can be protected using Cryptoglyph, Fluorescence, Secured QR code or thermochromic ink.

Physical products on the other hand can be protected using AlpVision Fingerprint, Product Fingerprint (unique), Raman spectroscopy or RFID.


Security of covert features

Covert security features are considered as more secure than overt security features. Within the group of covert security features tree classes related to the security level exists:

  • Low security
    • Thermochromic ink
  • Medium security
    • Fluorescence
    • RFID
  • High security
    • AlpVision Fingerprint
    • Cryptoglyph
    • Product Fingerprint (unique)
    • Raman spectroscopy
    • Secured QR code


The security of the features includes security with respect to duplication; i.e. how difficult it is to replicate a given feature, and the security regarding forging; i.e. how difficult it is to create a lookalike feature that will fool users.


Cost related to covert security features

The cost of covert security features can be split into the reader cost, the cost per protected item, and deployment costs.

Except for Raman spectroscopy where the reader cost is quite expensive and Fluorescence where it can be quite cheap, the reader always has a certain cost that may be considered too expensive compared to overt security features that rely on the human eye.

However certain technologies like AlpVision Fingerprint, Cryptoglyph and secured QR code are using smartphones. This has the advantages of diluting the cost of the device between all the various installed applications.

Regarding the cost per item, fluorescence and RFID have the highest cost. This can be easily explained for RFID by the fact that the number of chips is linearly related to the number of protected items.

Obviously, when the cost is linked to a technology license, it will not increase linearly with the number of protected item and this is the reason why Cryptoglyph, AlpVision Fingerprint and Secured QR code are so advantageous at large volumes.


Deployment complexity

Deploying a covert security feature like AlpVision Fingerprint or Product Fingerprint is in essence less complex than other deployments as they are taking use the intrinsic properties of the protected product. Cryptoglyph is also low complexity to put in place as no change is required to the printing process.

Thermochromic inks and Secured QR code are a bit more complex as for thermochromic inks a specific ink needs to be applied and for Secured QR codes the security may need to be generated on the fly during the QR code generation.

The remaining technologies (Raman spectroscopy, Fluorescence and RFID) are quite complex. For raman, samples need to be sent to a laboratory for destructive analysis.

Implementation of RFID requires a complex and expensive supply chain changes to integrate the electronic RFID components into the products or packaging.

Choosing a covert security feature is a complex process. Technologies like Cryptoglyph, AlpVision Fingerprint and Secured QR code are high security technologies that can be used by consumers and do not require and specific skills to perform the verification.

Furthermore their deployment has a low complexity for covert technologies and the cost remains low as there is no need of special consumables.

However, before choosing any solution, it is crucial to have a very good understanding of the scope of the future solution.


Download your white paper


It has been designed to help you cope with the challenge of the anti-counterfeit solution selection, refine the scope of the problem you want to solve, know the questions to ask to your future supplier and get more insights about AlpVision technologies.

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