Reconnaissance International White Paper focuses on digital document security

A new White Paper, which examines the implications of the transition from physical to digital security documents, has been published by Reconnaissance International. ‘Physical to Digital: A Revolution in Document Security’ considers the implications behind the current digital revolution in the areas of financial transactions and ID document security. The publication contrasts more than 1,000 years of experience in printing and examining security documents with the last three decades, which has seen a huge growth in the use of smart phones in what has previously been the domain of secured printed documents.

Protection and security are seen as the primary drivers in the physical document world, while digital growth is being propelled by a ‘can we do it? …and if so how?’-type attitude rather than security. Examples of breaches, hacks and outages in the digital world are included in the White Paper. A comparison reveals that in the Eurozone the incidence of payment card fraud is over 300 times bigger than the number of Euro banknotes that are counterfeited.

The White Paper also considers how far the transition in security documents from the physical to digital has gone and what the future holds. It also questions how safe the data that’s held and used in the digital world really is when we’re seeing data breaches that enable the theft of personal information about tens of millions of people.

Change of mindset

While there’s a recognition that society cannot turn the clock back, the White Paper nevertheless urges caution and the need to change the mindset of people working on digital finance and digital ID to put data and personal security at the heart of this new world.

The White Paper concludes that the use of digital technologies has some way to go before replacing cash. Most people in most countries continue to rely on cash for retail transactions. Similarly, when it comes to ID documents, digital technologies, while attractive, remain (for the time being, at least) some way short of being ubiquitous.

It’s clear, says the White Paper, that physical banknotes and ID credentials remain the norm, with the inspection of these documents by people and machines still the essential step in detecting fraudulent documents.

Important contribution to the debate

Ian Lancaster, founder and former managing director of Reconnaissance International and lead author and Editor, has stated that the White Paper is an important contribution to the digital document debate, clarifying the current position and the critical issues.

“A digital revolution is taking place,” asserted Lancaster. “We are moving from a world in which people can examine and inspect a document to check its legitimacy to one in which we’re required to trust that a device, such as our smart phone, is doing what we think it’s doing. Is the data it’s using accurate and secure and is the decision it leads us to make correct and appropriate? Throughout all the issues and considerations this raises, we must ask the question: does digital make us and our data safe and secure?”

This White Paper sets out the issues for which Reconnaissance International is creating discussion platforms, such as the Digital Document Security Conference, which takes place from 5-7 October in Vienna, and an extended special report due for publication later this year entitled ‘Secure Documents: The Transition from Physical to Digital’. 

*Copies of ‘Physical to Digital: A Revolution in Document Security’ are available to download at

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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