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Applications > Document Security

Security Seals Help Protect Your Documents

Information technology has largely removed the need for paper documents in most organizations, but paper documents are still in use. Paper documents are still used by organizations that cannot trust sensitive data to computer systems, such as government agencies and private research and development firms. These operations require data storage in a form that is not easily tampered with. Since electronic communication, the Internet and other technological advances make it easy for information to be intercepted or even altered, document security is now more important than ever.

The best way to protect your paper documents from being read is to use document security labels. The basic form of security labels is familiar to most people: "Secret", "Top Secret", "Eyes Only", etc. are common labels affixed to documents in order to highlight their importance. In the United States, Top Secret is the highest disclosed classification, followed by Secret and Confidential. Eyes Only is used to indicate documents meant to be read only by the intended recipient and no one else.

Security labels attached to documents are only one aspect of this model of protecting sensitive information. This method is very prevalent because of three reasons: it is easy to understand; clearances can be effectively managed for large groups of people; given the large numbers of people that frequently undergo classification changes or are re-classified altogether, any other system would not be practical.

In recent years, change in document security technology has allowed the enhancement of security labels. For example, security labels can now provide evidence that documents have been opened or otherwise tampered with. The chemical make-up of labels now affords an opportunity to display clear evidence of mishandling. Many labels are made that have the capacity to self-destruct upon tampering. The label essentially sets itself on fire, leaving a black mark on the document that clearly indicates interception or compromise.

Security labels are also made tamper-evident through a process known as microprinting. Microprinting is an excellent way of protecting genuine documents from counterfeits since microprinting is so hard to duplicate by known means of counterfeiting. For this reason microprinting is most commonly used on banknotes and checks. Microprinting involves printing a series of words that are almost microscopically small somewhere onto a document, banknote, check, deposit slip, etc. This series of words is used to confirm that the document is genuine.

When a security label is lifted off a document, the microprint stays on, allowing examiners to determine that the document has been compromised.

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