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Six Degrees of Counterfeit Detection & Prevention

In one of the recent articles I wrote, there was a comment regarding document security and embedded RFID tags. The questions related to how the recipient would know that the document had not been tampered with, even if the RFID tag was genuine. I followed up on that comment and discovered the author of the question was from a company called 6DCP.

In its full form, 6DCP's name is Six Degrees Counterfeit Prevention. When I talked with the CEO Eddie Cohen, he said the technology guarantees that the content in the document has not been modified, and that the company encrypts a high-resolution image of the page into the barcode. For products, it takes information entered into specific fields and encrypts it into the barcode.

In a nutshell, he referred to this solution as micro database less encapsulation (or MDLE), a technology that stores an encrypted database record in the barcode affixed to or printed on a document, container, or any other standard packaging. Imagine scanning a barcode and the document it is protecting shows up on your computer screen. Now a direct comparison is possible with the hard copy and the barcode document on display. The encryption technique used is a polymorphic scheme that allows the payload to remain unchanged while the encryption framework is guaranteed to be one-of-a-kind and completely non-duplicable.

The demo I witnessed represented a pharmaceutical company's inventory where batches of the same drug are bottled and shipped in the tens of thousands every day. By using 6DCP's barcode on each bottle, information like product code, date of manufacture, batch number, contents, and any other data the manufacturer would wish to include can be scanned, read, and authenticated using a smartphone, Webcam, tablet, or standard 2D scanner.

The authentication procedure consists of simply scanning the code with a free app like I-nigma. As soon as the barcode is scanned, the host Web server is accessed with either a confirmation of authenticity, or a screen that indicates the product is a fake. It is important to note that if the barcode is scanned twice, the display will indicate “fake.” This contingency assures against duplicate tags moving through the supply chain.

Many drugs are being purchased over the Internet as a cost savings move, but this method of procuring medicines has been shown to be dangerous. Counterfeit drugs have led to many deaths, and these have been documented in many publications. The FDA Website has a section on counterfeiting, if you would like to investigate this further.

The 6DCP 2D encrypted barcode system also has a track and trace capability for the supply chain in general. This secure innovation can also be used in tandem with RFID technology because the encrypted information can be included in a standard RFID tag. There are also barcode sealers and covers that are used to detect physical tampering or damage to the barcode label. Even if a counterfeiter could read the code, the act of reading the code shows up on a subsequent scan and the product becomes suspect.

Eddie used the term “fingerprint” because the security tagging is one of a kind. I find it difficult to believe that criminals would counterfeit life-saving medications, but that is the world we live in. With the 6DCP 2D polymorphic encryption system, the same Internet that allows the counterfeit drug trade to flourish can now be instrumental in stopping the illicit and immoral trade in its tracks. I hope to see this technology become universal as soon as possible.

I used my Galaxy SII with the I-nigma application to test a custom barcode generated for me in seconds. As soon as I received the 2D code via email, I scanned it, and the encrypted information I had been provided came right up on my screen. I imaged it twice, and all I saw was the message “fake.”

Would it make you feel better if you could go into your aging parents' medicine cabinet, hold the pill bottles up to your smartphone, and in seconds see that all the medicine was genuine and know that mom or dad did not buy any pills from a special friend who knew how to get better pricing on the Internet? The answer is not just “yes,” but “Oh, yes!”

5 comments on “Six Degrees of Counterfeit Detection & Prevention

  1. Barbara Jorgensen
    September 17, 2012

    Great point. I wonder if the drug companies are like the electronics industry in that the channel people buy from is important? Say you buy authentic medication, but you buy it on the Internet. What are the implications if something goes wrong or there is a reaction? It might be different becuase drugs go directly to consumers and many electronics are indirect. But I'm wondering…

  2. bolaji ojo
    September 17, 2012

    The entire problem of counterfeiting is fascinating in many ways for how it goes round in a cycle. Companies make products, counterfeiters copy them and then the company or some other firms try to detect the counterfeits. Fighting counterfeiters has become an industry on its own and the business may be worth hundreds of millions.

  3. Jobrien
    September 18, 2012

    Doesn't it bother you that if “Mom” had scanned her purchase and then you scanned it in her medicine chest, it would indicate the authentic product was Fake? Then you try to return it to the retailer, claiming th authentic product is fake? Who pays? Who suffers the bad reputation for selling a fake product -when it really isn't. Why would I want that on my product? There are better ways!

  4. dalexander
    September 18, 2012

    @Jobrien, I thought of that too. I was going to write one more article where I will address the customization potentials at the OEM level. You and I are on the same wavelength.

  5. Barbara Jorgensen
    September 18, 2012

    jobrien's example is a good one to illustrate where you buy makes a difference. If a channel is authorized this issue of fake vs. real can more easily be managed. If something scans as fake that really is authentic, that is something that should be easily verified by the manufacturer and its authorized sales channels. If you buy online, that seems nearly impossible. Buyer beware, as they say.

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