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Purdue Researchers Trace Documents by Fingerprinting Printers

19 Oct, 2004

Purdue Researchers Trace Documents by Fingerprinting Printers

Purdue University researchers have developed a system allowing investigators to trace an individual computer printer's unique "fingerprints." The technique is geared to helping law enforcement agencies looking into counterfeiting, forgeries and homeland security matters, but as yet only works for laser printers.

Edward Delp, a professor of electrical and computer engineering said work is ongoing to apply the technique to inkjet printers. The system first analyzes a document to identify characteristics that are unique for each printer, and also calls for designing printers to purposely embed individualized characteristics in documents.

So far, the researchers have been able to successfully identify which model of printer was used to create certain documents in 11 out of 12 models tested.

"We also believe that we will be able to identify not only which model printer was used, but specifically which printer was used," Delp said.

The research will be presented Nov. 5 at the International Conference on Digital Printing Technologies in Salt Lake City.

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