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27 Central Banks Push Anti-Counterfeit Software 400

Posted by timothy
from the mystical-number-banking-conspiracy dept.
securitas writes "GlobeTechnology reports that the 27-member Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group is behind the anti-counterfeit software in Adobe Photoshop CS, Ulead PhotoImpact, Jasc Paint Shop Pro and others. Consortium members of the Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group include the USA, Canada, Germany, Japan, Australia and many more. Law enforcement agencies and banknote-issuing authorities say that it is a response to the rapid growth of digital counterfeiting. The software is distributed free of charge to hardware and software manufacturers and is voluntary to use. But the European Union is drafting legislation to force manufacturers to include anti-counterfeit measures in all systems, scanners or printers sold in Europe. Counterfeiting and anti-counterfeiting with Adobe Photoshop and other products like inkjet printers have been the subject of recent discussion on Slashdot."
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27 Central Banks Push Anti-Counterfeit Software

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  • Help (Score:5, Funny)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:37PM (#8301259) Homepage Journal

    WANTED TO BUY:
    1x Adobe Photoshop version
    up to but not including CS.

    1x High quality inkjet printer,
    2002-2003 vintage

    Will pay cash.
    • Re:Help (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:53PM (#8301396)
      I think you meant:

      Will pay cash 1 week after delivery.
    • by Roman_(ajvvs) (722885) on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:53PM (#8301397) Journal
      How were you expecting to get the image into photoshop in the first place, hmmm? draw it yourself? :)

      News broadcast: a man was caught trying to pass off counterfeit $20 bills at the candy store. The store owner got suspicious when he noticed none of the colours stayed within the lines. When questioned, he responded: "I guess I feathered my alpha mask too much."


    • If legal copies of Photoshop don't work, criminals will only have pirated copies. Wow, big cultural shift there. Think of the awesome deterrent power of that law. Think of all those would-be counterfeiters who will say, "I'll steal from people I don't know, but I would never steal from Adobe."

      I often think that only skilled programmers should be allowed to make laws. Those who are making laws now are so illogical that they would never have run-time bugs because they would never get anything to compile.

      If you spend several years writing complex programs and debugging them, you develop respect for your own imperfect logic, and for the need to check your work, 90 or 900 times if needed. You develop respect for logic itself, and for the operation of your brain.

      Many people become lawmakers because they are somewhat popular, and got elected, only that. For some of them, if clicking on File/Save causes the program to exit, that's okay. It's better not to spend too much time thinking.
      • by A55M0NKEY (554964) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @10:36AM (#8304332) Homepage Journal
        You can use any other software that can handle scanning, and image editing. "United States Of America" to "Untied States of Vespucia" and change the Secretary of the Treasury

        The bills don't even have to be perfect. You can even use a carat to change the phrase "This note is legal tender" to "This note is ^not legal tender" and the phrase "Federal Reserve Bank" to "Federal Express Banc" and the phrase "United States of America" to "Untied States of Vespucia".

        You could put a portrait of "George Bush" or even "Alfred E. Newman" on the bill and/or change the denomination to $3.14, you could change the Secretary of the Treasury's signature to 'Pee Wee Herman'.

        Then you would have a bill that could be fired out of the back of your getaway van in a crowded place to distract the mobs of people into picking up bills blocking the way of the persuing police. Or just drop them on the trading floor of the NYSE...

  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:38PM (#8301262)
    Honestly, I don't see why people would be too up in arms about this. Digital copying of money can produce some pretty good fakes. And remember, the standard a counterfeit bill has to pass is not an expert's exam, but the exam of the kid at the grocery store. If the bad guy can successfully pass the bill there, it's too late.

    Afterall, those who want to photograph money for inclusion in a poster or such in compliance with the too big, too small or other clearly-wrong copy rules spelled out in the law can still do so optically. Making images of money shouldn't be as easy as technology has made making images of everything else.
    • Digital copying of money can produce some pretty good fakes

      I'd still like to see how someone would go about copying transparent sections of notes, other than cutting a section out and using stickytape (which I've heard has been tried) that looks obviously dodgy.
    • by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:43PM (#8301308) Journal
      This is a nice smoke screen to get people to accept gov't mandated tech. After this kind of thing gets through, the next thing will mandated DRM. Old equipment will be banned fron the 'net. "Upgrade" now or go to jail.
      • by DebianRcksLindowsLie (752247) on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:51PM (#8301375) Homepage
        Just wait until they start mandating what DRM, anti-counterfeiting, etc. software must be included in your operating system. Help Debian or your favorite Free Software OS get a foothold. Click the link in my .sig for more. Click my homepage for too much information.
        • by Tassach (137772)
          The real problem is that printed paper currency is technologically obsolete, and has been for at least the last decade. We need a new kind of cash.

          One solution would to go back to using coins made of precious metal, preferably where the value of the metal is close to the face value of the coin. Of course, governments hate this idea, as it destroys thier ability to conjure money from thin air. Gold coin is also impractical for large transactions, which is one of the main reasons we started using paper m

      • by wibs (696528) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @02:59AM (#8302412)
        Yes, this is the main problem. It seems to be generally agreed that this won't stop anyone who's serious, but when you're using image/pattern recognition to prevent scanning and printing, it's not a big leap to putting copyright enforcement patterns in magazines, books, etc etc. And as much as I can sympathize with wanting to protect your copyright, there are perfectly legitimate and legal reasons for scanning something out of your magazine/book/etc. The question is how long it will be before this kind of protection is implemented, and if we'll be told when it happens. Sorry for sounding paranoid, but it seems warranted.
    • by capz loc (752940) <capzloc@gmail.OPENBSDcom minus bsd> on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:43PM (#8301310)
      There are many anti-counterfeiting measures already implemented on paper money. (cotton-based(IIRC) paper, color-changing inks, watermarks, and metallic threads. Instead of changing US currency again, why not train cashiers and other handlers of money to utilize the features that are already in place?
      • by janbjurstrom (652025) <`inoneear' `at' `gmail.com'> on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:52PM (#8301386)
        and someone will create a better idiot."
      • by C10H14N2 (640033) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @12:04AM (#8301481)
        They already do. However, there are many, many issues of US currency out there. Part of the problem is that all US currency is legal tender. If you can conterfeit a 1980 note, that's as good as a 2004. Could you tell a counterfeit 1980 $5 or $10 note with a line of people at your register? Would you sit there dutifully checking every bill under a UV light to make sure the paper is good? Nah, you just hope to god it's good and leave it to the bank to sort out, who most of the time don't check anything but the pH of $20 or larger notes anyway. You'll get more scrutiny with $50s and $100s, but hardly ever, if ever, $1-10 notes. Also, what of vending machines (read also: Slot Machines)? If you think that Vegas and Atlantic City haven't sent a few lobbyists out on this one, think again.
    • by blincoln (592401) on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:45PM (#8301329) Homepage Journal
      Honestly, I don't see why people would be too up in arms about this.

      Constantly checking for counterfeits steals processing power that I should be able to use for things I want my PC to do.

      The software is never going to be perfect, either. What recourse do I have if I'm designing something that looks enough like currency to trigger it, but actually has a legitimate purpose (e.g. a prop for a film)?

      Finally, it's just another symptom of the nanny-state mentality that is pervading modern society. I shouldn't have automated systems watching over my every move to make sure I'm not doing anything unfavourable.
      • by cujo_1111 (627504) on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:59PM (#8301441) Homepage Journal
        Didn't anyone tell you, the whole innocent until proven guilty ideal has disappeared.

        We are all subversives until proven otherwise...

      • by handy_vandal (606174) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @12:09AM (#8301511) Homepage Journal
        Finally, it's just another symptom of the nanny-state mentality that is pervading modern society.

        The nanny-state mentality (nice phrase) isn't peculiar to modern society -- it's common throughout history.

        Check out, for example, the history of sumptuary laws [google.com] ... or how Calvinist Geneva [google.com] was practically a police state ... or how Sparta [google.com] was literally a police state ... or how most of Roman history [google.com] is characterized by subordination of the individual to the state ... for that matter, consider that most of human history is characterized by the institution of slavery.

        On the balance, the nanny state has been the historical norm; widespread respect for individual initiative is a relatively recent phenomenon.

        -kgj
      • by myowntrueself (607117) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @12:31AM (#8301681)
        "Constantly checking for counterfeits steals processing power that I should be able to use for things I want my PC to do."

        Especially if they 'enhance' the current method.

        As I understand it, there is a pattern of circles on the currency, and the software checks for this.

        If the bill is scanned or printed slightly offset from straight up and down (I've heard that just 1 degree can do the trick) then the pattern matching doesn't work and the bill is scanned/printed.

        For them to fix this, they would need to check each increment of rotation for those circles.

        I can see that taking quite some time...

        (Better luck next time, guys!)
    • by BitterOak (537666) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @12:29AM (#8301656)
      Honestly, I don't see why people would be too up in arms about this.

      Because devices (hardware and software) that I buy and pay for should be working for me, not the government. My computer's CPU cycles should not be utilized against my will to ensure that I am complying with the law. Let the Secret Service buy computers to do their work, and let me use my computers to do my work.

  • Oh well (Score:5, Funny)

    by Da Weave (689799) on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:38PM (#8301268)
    There goes my replacement Monopoly money.
  • by pheared (446683) <kevin@phea[ ].net ['red' in gap]> on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:39PM (#8301275) Homepage
    Homer: Hey Herman, I had to come out here to see what's so funny. [gasps] A counterfeit jeans ring operating out of my car hole! I'm going to tell everyone. Wait here.
  • by sydlexic (563791) on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:40PM (#8301282)
    wouldn't an EU mandate make open source scanners and image manipulation illegal in the EU? it's not like their providing the source. And if they did, the couterfeiters would just strip it out.
    • by Trejkaz (615352) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @12:01AM (#8301458) Homepage

      You'd want to hope by "scanners" they meant the hardware. If the hardware (or at least the firmware within) incorporates the feature, only hacking that firmware would remove the "feature." The last thing we'd want to see is someone having to write a patch to GIMP to implement this useless feature.

      But since this is happening in the EU, this begs a question... how does the machine know it's money? The colour? Certainly not the pictures since I'm led to believe each EU country has a different picture on it.

      One thing's for sure, anyway. In the EU, settling on a specific, single picture per note would do more to prevent counterfeiting than preventing a few pieces of scanner hardware from working.

      • by bfree (113420) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @12:14AM (#8301543)
        Notes are identical across the EU. Each country does have it's own coins, where one side features a national emblem and the other is common.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @12:23AM (#8301617)
        The answer to this question was here on slashdot [slashdot.org].

        The software looks at 5 dots appearing (multiple times) on every money used in the EU.

        There was even a link to a pdf file [cam.ac.uk].
      • by G-funk (22712) <josh@gfunk007.com> on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @03:25AM (#8302503) Homepage Journal
        how does the machine know it's money?

        This came up lst time this was asked here. The detection is based on a pattern of circles, hidden/featured in most notes of most currencies.
  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:40PM (#8301287)
    I'm guessing that this is just like most other bank note security systems, some of the clearer details are made public, but others are kept secret since we don't particularly want "Free as in Linux" money out there.

    Therefore, I wonder how the central banks of the world are going to implement this in OSS image editors. Afterall, something commented as "//This is where we put the part that stops people trying to open images of money." is gonna be rather easy bypass, and would also require them to define all of the tricks they're using to identify bills in other software too or let some of those checks slide.

    • Therefore, I wonder how the central banks of the world are going to implement this in OSS image editors.

      They won't have to. They're incorporating the technology directly in the printers. It may be a while before we see opensource firmware for printers. :(
    • by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:54PM (#8301408) Journal
      This could be the first step in the criminalization(sp) of open source software. What starts out as voluntary usually ends up becoming mandatory(Anyone remember the "double-nickel" on the american interstates?)
    • by jhoger (519683) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @12:22AM (#8301612) Homepage
      They could just write that part of the code in a write-only language like Perl, or maybe Forth.

      Safe as houses!

      -- John.
  • the gimp (Score:4, Funny)

    by mtenhagen (450608) on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:41PM (#8301289) Homepage
    Iam glad criminals dont use "The GIMP".
  • Heh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by radicalskeptic (644346) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `enotirt'> on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:43PM (#8301309)
    Counterfeiting and anti-counterfeiting with Adobe Photoshop and other products like inkjet printers have been the subject of recent discussion on Slashdot."

    Heh, not that the Photoshop effort was effective--all you need to do is search the applications section of suprnova.org [213.158.116.15] to find "banknote patch Photoshop CS." [213.158.116.18]
  • by Gleenie (412916) * <simon.c.green@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:44PM (#8301319)
    - it's not really designed to. Sure, the big organised crime gangs will get around it with no problems at all. But it will stop the casual counterfeiter. This is what it is designed to do.

    The problem of course is that _sometimes_ it gets in the way of legitimate uses of digital technology. This is an example of one idiot ruining it for everyone. Life's like that. I pay high car insurance premiums because other people are stupid/lazy/drunk/asleep, even though I'm not.

    Yeah, it's annoying, but that's life. It would just be nice if the companies would be more up-front about it. Good on Adobe for coming clean; but they needn't have denied it in the first place!
  • by qtp (461286) on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:44PM (#8301322) Journal
    They should make this a user option in the Gimp's preferences dialogue!

  • Dare I suggest... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:44PM (#8301325)
    that rather than trying to fix the software that can copy notes, you design a note that's harder to copy in such a fashion [rba.gov.au]? Maybe something that has a clear window, shadow image, fluorescent printing, and more [rba.gov.au]? Something that makes it much easier for the end user to check (in several ways) the authenticity of a given note?

    It's a never ending game. As E. E. Smith said, what physical science can devise, physical science can analyse and reproduce. We just have to keep moving the bar higher than the counterfeiters can easily reach. If the typical US bank note is too easily copied by technology available to the home user, then it's time for the typical US bank note to be updated. Not for the technology to be crippled...

    • Re:Dare I suggest... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      that rather than trying to fix the software that can copy notes, you design a note that's harder to copy in such a fashion?

      Oh my God, you're speaking the truth! There's a reason why the U.S. dollar is so favorable to people outside of the country.. well two reasons, actually. 1. The currency value is (relatively) stable. 2. The bill is SO easy to counterfeit compared to even the currency of third world countries. I'd just love to see someone try to print out a convincing counterfeit Thai note on their
    • Re:Dare I suggest... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Nebrie (530329) * on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @12:04AM (#8301477)
      This is why the US treasury has announced that they will start redesigning bills every few years. Having the largest amount of currency and fickle customers, they like to take things more slowly. http://www.moneyfactory.com/newmoney/main.cfm/medi a/releases09092003
      • by xixax (44677) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @12:30AM (#8301672)
        "C'mon, of course the 2006 thirteen-dollar bill features Larry Ellison and Carly Fiorina... Gimmee my stuff man..."

        Xix.
      • Re:Dare I suggest... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @12:46AM (#8301801)
        This is the author of the grandparent post (honest! :). I've had a look at that site, and there are three main points about the new features:
        1. The watermark - the faint image similar to the large portrait, which is part of the paper itself and is visible from both sides when held up to the light.
        2. The security thread - also visible from both sides when held up to the light, this vertical strip of plastic is embedded in the paper. "USA TWENTY" and a small flag are visible along the thread.
        3. The color-shifting ink - the numeral "20" in the lower-right corner on the face of the note changes from copper to green when the note is tilted. The color shift is more dramatic and easier to see on the new-design notes.
        All three are useful anti-counterfeiting measures; there's no disputing that. However, if you look at Australia's techniques, there are two levels of protection: the blatently obvious, and the more subtle.

        What do I mean by that? Well, the clear window is "blatently obvious". You see it, and it's immediately obvious that it's meant to be there; it's part of the design of the note. As you encounter more notes, you come to realise that it's seamless; it "feels" no different to the rest of the note. So when Joe Blow comes up to you and offers you a note with a window that doesn't quite fit, you quickly realise that it can't be a real note -- it has to be a fake. Anybody -- from any country -- should be able to pick up on that without too much trouble.

        The more subtle things are things like the tiny writing (saying, for example, "FIFTY DOLLARS"); the seven point star that reveals itself only when you hold the note up to the light; that sort of thing. The seven point star actually is somewhere between "ultra subtle" and "obvious" -- looking at the note, it can be noticed without too much difficulty if you're observant.

        I guess I'm saying that, to me at least, the new US $20 note doesn't follow what appears to be world's best practice, whilst the Australian note does. It's an improvement, yes, but it doesn't go as far as it could, and arguably, should. The more a currency is liable to be forged, the less value it will have in the long run, as nobody can trust the notes.

        Just some random thoughts, is all.

        The other thing is: to the best of my knowledge, Australia has had only two note designs in the period of decimal currency. The switch to plastic notes was well publicised, and started with the high value (and hence more often forged) notes, progressively replacing every note down to the five dollar (our two and one dollar denominations are coins these days, not notes). As xixax implies, redesigning your notes on a regular basis is not the best way to keep your currency safe from counterfeiting; in that sense, you are better off doing a major, major, MAJOR upgrade every, say, fifty years or so, rather than a string of minor upgrades every five or ten years. This sort of change to the US currency seems to me to be a minor revision, not a major overhaul...

        • by vivian (156520) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @01:25AM (#8302006)
          Actually I seem to remember it was the other way round - the $5 note was replaced first, then the $10 note etc.
          Top 5 reasons for going from boring monochrome paper to plastic colourful money:

          1) it lasts a lot longer for notes that change hands a lot - a $5.00 paper note would get chewed up in something like 6 months, but the plastic vertions lasts a lot longer before it has to be replaced.

          2) you never get a nasty crumpled greasy dirty note - the plastic notes are all but impossible to crease and don't retain dirt etc. nearly as well as paper.

          3) we love the beach - and paper money generally doesnt. With the plastic notes you can go for a surf with the money to buy your lunch in your boardies, without having to take a wallet & leave it on the beach.

          4) you can put the notes in the oven to shrink them down & make fun keyring tags ( actually I think that only worked with the first plastic notes - and I don't endorse defacing currency)

          5) It was a great excuse to get republicly minded and replace the Queen's head with a bunch of other people no-one knows (but should).

          6) Tourists (especially Americans who are used to all money being green) can't help but think of it as monopoly money ( because of all the pretty colors) and spend it accordingly.

          7) All the pretty colors help in identification to prevent you buying a $100 kebab after a beery night out.

          8) you can sticky tape two $100 notes together and make a cheezy pair of "$200" shades with the little plastic windows.

          9)even the dodgiest back street dealers warez dealers take "plastic money"

          10) it has a tendancy to stop filthy rich bastards lighting their cigars off $100 notes. I don't think it's absorbtive qualities are too good either, for any other mis-uses that might tempt the overly rich.

  • Good and Bad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HappyCitizen (742844) on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:44PM (#8301327) Homepage Journal
    What is the point, if anyone really wants to conterfiet software, they'll find a copy of older versions around. It will work just as well. Heck, why not use paint, with some skill that could work. This won't deter those who truely want to counterfiet. Maybe it will save a few $100 a year from those who are lightly considering it, but mainly it will kunut people who want crystal clear images which the software determines to look like money. This hurts, not helpes IMO
  • by ObviousGuy (578567) <ObviousGuy@hotmail.com> on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:47PM (#8301342) Homepage Journal
    The heart of the problem is that the legal tender is easily replicable. Coins are harder to reproduce and the payoff is much lower than paper money. Paper money, because it must be printed is susceptible to counterfeiting.

    The counterfeiters who are truly making a dent in the money supply don't use Photoshop, though. For the most part, they have real drum printers and very sophisticated printing plates. They are printing money onto real fiber paper. They certainly aren't printing bills out on their Epson Deskjet onto White Shark recycled office paper.

    At the extremely low level of low-cost counterfeiting which these software controls attempt to prevent, there simply isn't enough money being produced to worry about. The guy in his basement printing maybe a hundred thousand dollars a day out of his inkjet printer can only use so much of that before getting red flagged by some clerk who notices that his $100 bill isn't quite right (usually because the paper is different).

    These software controls don't do anything to attack the real problem of counterfeiters who are doing the real damage printing millions of dollars which are indistinguishable from real money.
  • by maliabu (665176)
    i would imagine anyone printing counterfeits out of a computer/printer are amateurs, thus the number of notes printed are limited, therefore they can be used fairly easily without getting caught.

    how many times does the shopkeeper in a gas station look so carefully on the notes you pass on to him?

    so maybe, just maybe, this kind of Anti-Counterfeit measure is enough to put a lot of people off that wishful thinking.
  • Genuine question. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by totatis (734475) on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:48PM (#8301353)
    This is a genuine question : how is it a bad thing ?

    For me, that means two things :
    1) if you want to do some parody bill, well, you'll still can, you'll just have to make sure that even from far it looks like parody.
    2) 15 years old kids that get drunk for the first time and think that it is a good idea to make some cheap bill to get that coke free won't go 15 years in jail.

    This thing just means that if you want to make false money, you'll have to dig a little bit. And if you do, it's clear that you wanted to counterfeit, and you'll go to jail. On the other hand, some kid won't be able to pool a cheap prank that can get him in serious troubles. Good chances are that he'll think "hey, if i've got to go to www.falsemoney.ze, maybe the police/secret service/whatever will notice, so maybe I shouldn't".

    Remember, this thing is not, has never been, and will never be to deter mafias from counterfeiting. It's just to make it hard enough for Joe Schmoe that he has to think about his actions, and then decide that it would be stupid to risk 15 years for a prank.
    • by 1u3hr (530656)
      This is a genuine question : how is it a bad thing ?

      Today it's currency. Tomorrow it's anything with the Disney digital watermark. Or Playboy. Next it's illegal to sell hardware or software without this DRM. No need to make it illegal to own or make, it'll just be practically impossible for most people to avoid.

      Of course, criminals will still counterfeit and copy whatever they want; it's "users", or as they prefer to call us, "consumers", who will lose out.

    • Re:Genuine question. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fred911 (83970)
      About 10 years ago a friend of mine gave me a USD $20. Not a debt payment, just a test. Told me, look at it. Not thinking he was playing arround, I took a closer look. He handed me a nice reproduction. A Photoshop scanned job printed on a new (at that time) Epson 300 at an amazing 300dpi!
      My friend (who had no financial need to produce currency) decided on a mission, to knock off a bill. He shopped the paper, practiced justification time after time. The rejects hit the trash.

      Forward 2 months and there's
  • by the-build-chicken (644253) on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:50PM (#8301368)
    "excuse me sir, I represent the 27 banks the currently back all major mutual funds that invest in your company and keep it afloat. We would like you to put this software in your product please"

    Funny how the word voluntary seems to be changing of late.
  • Trimming the edges (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rzbx (236929) <slashdot&rzbx,org> on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:50PM (#8301371) Homepage
    "Officials with the RCMP and the Bank of Canada refuse to identify or discuss the technology because they don't want to tip off would-be counterfeiters about ways of thwarting the system."

    This won't prevent professional criminals from counterfeiting. At least they stated it correctly by saying "would-be counterfeiters". Still, someone with enough ambition and the resources and/or knowledge will still find a way. I'm simply stating the obvious here though.

    I am curious though as to how the software prevents counterfeiting. I thought maybe one possibility was comparing a picture with data of an actual bill, but that would mean having data in the software that contained information of the real bill which presents a problem. If anyone has any ideas or information, please share.

    Personally, I see major shifts in this area within the next few decades. Improved bills? Increase in amount of counterfeiting equipment? Some sort of digital verification system? Just some ideas.

    Also, what about open source software?
    • by alienw (585907)
      This kind of technology has been present in most color copiers and such for a long time. Also, I fail to see how storing an image of a real bill presents a problem. What's more likely, however, is that the system detects patterns that the bill includes (i'm sure there is some nonrandom distribution of dots or lines or something). It probably also depends on the actual software. I have no experience with that stuff, just some ideas for how such a system could be implemented.
  • by dilvie (713915) on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:50PM (#8301373) Homepage Journal
    Does anybody else think it's a BAD idea to try to legislate software features? Am I the only one who thinks that could cause a lot of problems? - Eric
  • by BinaryJono (546830) on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:52PM (#8301379)
    the number of GIMP users will balloon as all the counterfeiters switch from photoshop!
  • by LinuxParanoid (64467) * on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:54PM (#8301402) Homepage Journal
    I tried creating very small (~16x16?) GIF icons 4 years ago using Paint Shop Pro (the 30-day trial version) and I noticed that whenever I saved an image, it kept adding some sort of watermark to the image, shifting the color of a handful of non-adjacent pixels within what had previously been a solid band of color to a slightly different color in a way that was barely noticeable to the eye, but very noticable to me when trying to hand-edit the GIFs while zoomed in.

    I kept trying to change the pixels back and re-save the image, and whenever I saved the image, the mysterious watermark pixels would re-appear.

    I think I switched to something more primitive like MS Paint (eep) to workaround the problem.

    --LP
    • It might be because the program is trying to dither/use the optimal 256- (or 16-) color palette. I remember similar stuff happening to me the last time I tried to use GIFs... then I discovered the PNG format, and it didn't matter any longer.
  • by IshanCaspian (625325) on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:54PM (#8301409) Homepage
    Now, I'm sure this post is going to be flooded with tons of people saying "what's the problem? I don't want to counterfit money." Neither do I, but I'm still worried about this. It sets a precedent for software being crippled to suit the government. This is no different in principle from having an email program that alerts the department of homeland security when you send emails that advocate terrorism. It's our right to have all of the finest tools for breaking every law imaginable so long as we do not exercise them. That means owning guns, copies of the anarchist's cookbook, whatever. That's what the second amendment is all about...the founding fathers did not trust the government to disarm us, and rightly so. I have the right to be able to counterfit money...it's only once I actually counterfit money that the Government has a right to tell me what I can and cannot do.
  • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:56PM (#8301414) Journal
    I can anonymously buy cash cards at any mall around here, with Visa and MC logos... They cost $1 (no matter the amount you buy - so a $500 card is .2%) - The vendors hate it, because it costs them even more (and, by extension, the consumer).

    So, the question is - don't you all think it will come down to point where the Government issues cash cards?

    It saves them money (vs printing money) AND It (should) be harder to conterfeit than paper money (e.g. cryptologically secure).

    It will piss off the credit card companies, but wouldn't it be a solution?

    Along these lines - would coins be any harder to fake? I wouldn't mind carrying more change, if, say $20 coins were the size of dimes...

    It goes without saying, that I wouldn't buy such a card if it weren't anonymous...

  • by femto (459605) on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:58PM (#8301432) Homepage
    How long before we see open source projects to replace the processing elements of peripherals?

    For example, with a printer, something along the lines of a microcontroller (running embedded linux) which connects to the print head, print head drive circuits and paper drive circuits. The existing printer is used only toprovide a mechanical chassis.

    It might even make financial sense. Buy that entry level printer, which uses similar mechanical components to that high end printer, and end up with an 'open source' solution that exceeds the capabilities of the high end printer but costs less. Alternatively, don't throw out that obsolete printer but reuse the chassis and convert it into a state-of-the-art printer.

  • by extra the woos (601736) on Monday February 16, 2004 @11:58PM (#8301436)
    This is only gonna prevent some guy at home from making a funny counterfeit bill on his little inkjet to show off to his friends. I know, i've done it before. I'm like hey check out this...Then i tore it in two and they were like "WHY ARE YOU THROWING AWAY A PERFECTLY GOOD DOLLAR BILL?"...When i tossed the 2nd one, they went to grab it..then I told them to look closely. Oh by the way, that isn't illegal either! And neither is scanning a bill in and printing it out, then printing some propaganda on the other side, and leaving it places, so people will pick it up thinking its a real bill. Or making funny alterations (such as the sex dollar bill)...There's reasons to scan in money that don't involve counterfeiting. I know, I've scanned in money before for the above reasons. I would have been very annoyed if the software wouldn't let me scan it in. But know what, that wouldn't have stopped me, I woulda just scanned it into some crappy software then imported it into photoshop or psp.

    Face it, maybe .01% of all the counterfeiting going on is done on some little inkjet by some guy using photoshop. This isn't going to stop *anything important*. This is just some feel-good measure, and THATS ALL IT IS.

    Now, the scary thing is, what do you wanna be that these "image recognition" techniques are being patented, marketed, and sold. Imagine not being able to scan in somethign from a magazine or book because it has a code on it marking it as copyrighted. After all, if you were going to scan it in, you were *obviously* going to do something bad, like make an illegal copy! That's where I see this going: sort of a drm thats built into scanners, printers, and image software!
  • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @12:00AM (#8301447) Homepage Journal
    The paper bank note is 200 year old technology so why don't I hear ANYTHING about a replacement for the banknote? And while I think that the US has done some interesting things with anti-counterfeiting measures, strong arming corporations like Adobe et al into causing their products not to work as intended is not a real solution, does not directly address the problem and in the end only goes to make for more problems for people like you and me.

    This mentality of "kick the people" has gone on for way to long. Are we not capable of outdoing Benjimam Franklin [about.com]? He is the one who invented paper currency to begin with.
    Funny that all he did was put to use the printing press, an invention which has been around since 1440 [about.com] to make these bank notes with. Sort of ironic that he made the money hmself with a press he owned... whooda thunk that people could counterfeit money with printing presses and printers?!?!? So now that printing capabilities a mere 200 years later are more advanced, do you think it's time we look for new ways to produce paper currency? Or should we just start walking backwards down the path of personal empowerment because the tech has gotten too powerful?
    • by kfg (145172) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @12:34AM (#8301706)
      Benjamin Franklin was a remarkable man, and a remarkable inventor, but paper money was not among his inventions. He would have been familiar with it since childhood. By the time of his birth it was more common than hard cash.

      Indeed, the main anger at the Stamp Act in the American colonies was because it required payment in hard coinage, and most people didn't have hard currency, not so much as a penny.

      A brief history of paper money [moneymuseum.com]

      KFG
    • by femto (459605) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @12:49AM (#8301813) Homepage
      Paper money was invented by the Chinese [gi-de.com], well before Benjamin Franklin, or even the US, existed.
  • by caino59 (313096) <jcaino@obscure[n ... a l i t y . net> on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @12:01AM (#8301454) Homepage
    Counterfeiter's Screwed.
  • Irony. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Trejkaz (615352) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @12:04AM (#8301478) Homepage

    Their title (my bolding): "Central banks hope free software will put a dent in counterfeiting"

    And then they mention Adobe Photoshop and Ulead PhotoImpact. Earth to the Globe?

  • by ProfMoriarty (518631) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @12:34AM (#8301708) Journal
    a local man was charged with counterfeiting money [grandforks.com] ... (2nd story)

    You know ... I'm really suprised that people still try to make counterfeit money since the penalties are so stiff, and usually are crappy copies.

    I think that a credit/debit cards are the future, and that physical money is on the way out. However, that smacks against my privacy ... since it would be tracable.

    The problem is that there is no good ANONYMOUS way to purchase things without currency.

  • Hack (Score:3, Informative)

    by rixstep (611236) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @12:37AM (#8301731) Homepage
    eWEEK has a hack for CS. Just import at another size, then restore. Don't have the link, but it's there.
  • by Crypto Gnome (651401) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @12:53AM (#8301841) Homepage Journal
    Is only one of the reasons Australian Currency was switched to Polymer (ie Plastic) rather than Paper.

    These plastic notes are physically colored and include clear sections, as opposed to being blank paper with colors printed on them.

    One of the other reasons was the durability of the notes.

    Oddly enough, when they first came out many people tried to IRON them to remove the wrinkles (they take hard creases very easily) - evey seen a shrinky-dink after it's been baked?
  • by Lord Bitman (95493) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @12:59AM (#8301876) Homepage
    Allow perfect scanning, perfect printing, and simply don't allow an exact-scale bill to be printed. All other arguments aside, I don't see how anyone would be hurt by not allowing a bill to be printed within 10% of its true scale. All else being the same, what's wrong with this?
  • Old Measures (Score:5, Interesting)

    by buckhead_buddy (186384) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @01:16AM (#8301965)
    I worked for a check printing company that had many scanners, printers, and film output devices that had been stripped of their anti-counterfieting devices. This was a must have since people were routinely designing watermarks, elaborate borders, and color washes that would set off the criminal circuits and freeze he device.

    I actually saw these devices as marketshare protection devices. My company and its handful of competitors were rapidly having the marketshare for high quality printing eaten away by good commercial printers. The marketing department may have made all sorts of blather about "finer attention to detail" and "knowing the banking industry" but the process of MICR printing on 2400dpi presses from Macs using Adobe Illustrator could honestly have been done by anyone willing to follow standards.

    But it would have been a bit of a problem if this low-end competition were trying to output a check prototype with a watermark, color wash, and elaborate border that continuously set off their anti-counterfieting software. The high end check and document printing business wasn't a monopoly, but I strongly suspect that these were devices strongly desired by every player in the market to keep the sellers from expanding.

    Are these measures the same way? They surely sound motivated by similar private market interests.
  • The Real Problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by burris (122191) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @01:26AM (#8302012)
    The problem is that once these copy protection controls are installed everyone will want to use them. Markus Kuhn of Cambridge University has discovered one of the patterns used for detection of bank notes, known as the EURion Constellation. Sure, it's not that big of a deal when only bank notes have the constellation, but expect to see the constellation start showing up in the darndest places.

    Soon everyone and their brother will start printing the Constellation onto whatever they feel needs "copy protection." You'll see it printed on photographs and forms and all kinds of junk. Regular people will have their right to make copies and the ability to use their own equipment usurped by others abusing a mechanism that was only supposed to inconvenience counterfeiters.
    • by dmeranda (120061) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @02:17AM (#8302270) Homepage
      You are exactly right, it's not about anti-counterfeiting technology, but rather the inevitable exploitation of this for other purposes with much darker motives. Although I believe that protection of currencies is extremely important, this mechanism is particularly open to abuse. Not abuse by our governments, but by corporations and other control-centric organizations. It's a simple watermarking technique which anybody can use for any print material.

      This will essentially be free copy protection which may someday be ubiquitously enforced in all hardware and with the backing of law. And it will be law based upon fraud and counterfeiting, rather than copyright law. So what few "freedom" holes are left in the DMCA and its like will now be plugged up by anti-counterfeit laws. If laws are created (and they WILL come), are we going to have equivalent circumvention exemptions?

      In fact I thought I had heard someplace that these anti-copying patterns were already being discovered in certain print publications. Even if laws aren't passed, there is nothing to stop the damage possible now. The hardware and software is already in place in the hand of the unsuspecting public.
  • by SiliconJesus101 (622291) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @01:56AM (#8302176) Homepage
    Several years back I worked for a company that printed high security checks, auto registrations, and auto titles (among other standard business forms). All of these are very complex documents and are best done the old fasioned way, on a press. Although the offset press may not be quite as good as using hand etched plates it most definitely can turn out more complex images than any inkjet or color laser printer could ever hope to do.

    Simple process, photograph the bill, do your color separations in an older version of photoshop, etc; then burn plates from the color seperated negatives. Better yet, bypass photoshop completely and take several photographs of the bill using different filters over the lens to directly produce your color seperated negatives.

    The fact of the matter is that the "big boys" in counterfeiting are NOT using a $50.00 scanner and a $19.99 inkjet printer.

  • by eaglebtc (303754) * on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @02:21AM (#8302283)
    What difference does it make that these companies are including these forced anti-counterfeit measures? Crackers are willing to go ANY length necessary to defeat any and all anti-piracy measures. As a matter of fact, a patch for Adobe Photoshop CS was released just a few weeks ago that turns off the built-in currency-scanning mechanism.

    People have a right to use software that does not impose arbitrary restrictions upon them. When Adobe has a virtual monopoly on the image editing market (because their software is really freakin' good), it is in their best interest not to alter the software in such a way that pisses off their customers.

    Both Adobe and the Government need to learn a lesson from the recording industry: don't alienate the consumers by adding "features" that restrict their personal rights. Uncle Sam does not need to get involved in this process; what he should do instead is invest more energy into training cashiers pens that change color on fake money, and train cashiers better on how to spot fakes.

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @02:54AM (#8302398) Homepage
    I've seen images of currency that contains the key pattern of five 1mm circles, but does anyone have a pure image of the trigger pattern, for general use in protecting documents?
  • by SharpFang (651121) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @03:43AM (#8302562) Homepage Journal
    As "end targets" of the process, they transform data into false money. Not much can be done further. Cutting, macerating to make them look old, or whatever you plan to do with fake money. And if they don't look like real, you can safely print them and assume they are not real.

    But what about scanners and editing software? Bullshit. I scan in $1 to paste my face in and morph it to pink. How illegal is that? I want to include a pile of bills in a clipart I create. I want to create textures for a game I write. I can't, because the data - before being processed - is considered "intended for illegal use". That's complete bullshit. Scanners and image processing software are no place for anti-counterfeiting measures.

    It's like I approach a military base and put a film in my camera. I get arrested for taking photos of military objects, even though I didn't even aim my camera at them, and never intended to.
  • 1984 approaching (Score:4, Interesting)

    by t_allardyce (48447) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @04:31AM (#8302707) Journal
    Yeah well we dont want all these 'Open Source' terrorists with their 'GIMP' (a very dangerous counterfeiting tool) and their 'GCC' (a 'C' compiler with no DRM restrictions) and their MPlayer (a pirate media player also with no DRM). Don't forget their modified drivers for printers, scanners and digital cameras that allows people to copy money!

    Btw did any of these fuckwit DRM mandating freaks think about how they are possibly going to make this work with currency accross the world and how it will work when a country needs to change a note for whatever reason??
  • by Gabhlan (531413) <gabhlan@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @07:16AM (#8303227) Homepage
    The Mac version of Adobe Photoshop CS doesn't seem to include the anti-counterfeit system, I just scanned a $1 bill (the only american currency I have, I'm in the UK) at 1200DPI with a Canon D646U scanner, and it opened with no problems in Photoshop CS. I tried with various UK notes as well and they all opened fine. Yet another reason Apple should be advertising to the criminal/organised crime market ;)
  • by swilver (617741) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @08:25AM (#8303503)
    Simply add this Eurion Constellation mark to all your pictures, documents, etc.. Programs incorporating a mechanism that prevents you from altering such pictures will simply become unusable up to the point nobody wants to use them anymore or the protection is removed.

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