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12 things you need to know before you connect your products

Product authentication: everything you need to know but they will not tell you

Are you looking to connect your products? Will you be equipping your products with Digital IDs to support your brand protection, consumer engagement, traceability or sustainability strategies? Then, here are 12 things you need to know before you adopt Digital IDs and Digital Product Passports in order to leverage authentication to boost your business:

  1. Companies are rapidly adopting smart tagging solutions for their products to meet growing consumer demand for product transparency and to prepare for upcoming regulations that will make digital IDs mandatory in Europe within the next 5 years.

  2. By implementing secure and certifiable IDs, brands can offer trusted traceability throughout the supply chain, monitor the grey market, and reduce the need for labour-intensive returns handling. In addition to protection against counterfeits, product authentication allows for enhanced engagement and circularity strategies.

  3. Brands that fail to implement authentication as part of their connected product strategies, and those that mistakenly overestimate the security of their authentication implementations expose themselves to significant hidden risks.

  4. Not all Digital IDs can provide reliable and secure authentication. Counterfeiters can easily clone insecure product IDs, applying them to many thousands of products, while fake markers can redirect users to a brand's website or a simulated authentication experience, further convincing consumers that a fake product is genuine. It is therefore essential to be able to recognise clones from the originals.

  5. It is crucial to design authentication systems that can identify and manage cloned and fake IDs to prevent illicit items from inevitably entering and contaminating the circular brand ecosystem, just as they do today with the new market.

  6. Risks are compounded when project teams are falsely led to believe that certain authentication technologies provide an impenetrable level of security. While blockchain's distributed ledger technology can provide secure and transparent record-keeping of the product’s online identity, it is not infallible in authenticating physical products. Cloned unsecured physical IDs can be checked against their record on the blockchain, which can lead to a false sense of authenticity. Therefore, it is essential to complement blockchain with other forms of ID security on the physical product.

    certilogo connected products

  7. Digital tagging technologies by their nature can be cloned, including most NFCs. Howeverthey can likewise be secured by being complemented by a multi-layered approach that combines other technologies applied in the label in combination with broader fraud detection systems. Each marker has its own distinct specific features and benefits which must be weighed against the needs of both the brand and the end consumer. Even the QR code can be secured and in many cases be more effective at detecting fakes, as well as being more durable, less expensive, and more sustainable to produce than other types of digital markers.

  8. Even the most secure unclonable NFCs equipped with OTP don’t fully solve the problem. While providing a walled garden around a brand's ecosystem of services that allows access only to authentic products, the approach does not allow the monitoring and control of the inevitable market of fake products. On the contrary, it can make it worse, eventually causing the brand reputational issues, because it does not manage the highly delicate consumer use cases when they inevitably and unwillingly encounter illicit products.

  9. Connected products are changing the nature of what defines a product as being genuine. In today's connected context, authenticity is no longer defined solely by a product being certified ‘not fake’, but also by a brand's ability to tell a truthful story about its product and demonstrate it in action. Authenticity is conveyed by the marker and the digital journey that the consumer experiences. The digital ID has become an icon of authenticity, and products without one, even if genuine, may not be considered authentic.

  10. Consumers tend to place implicit trust in technology, which can make them less attentive to physical cues of a product's genuineness. Digital IDs are enabling counterfeit products to become increasingly convincing and causing consumers to become more vulnerable to being deceived. Insecure Digital IDs are giving rise to the super-fake, and can ultimately make the problem they set out to tackle get worse.

  11. Digital IDs are prone to cloning, exactly like physical products, resulting in two or more products that share the same ID. When brands are unable to tell these products apart, brands are at increased risk of counterfeiting, the theft of product identity and information, erosion of consumer trust, non-compliance with upcoming regulations, and supply chain ungovernability.

  12. The key to secure product authentication does not rely on a single marker type or ID-issuing technology. Rather, it involves a complex system of multiple and interconnected factors. By making security a key pillar of their digital ID strategies, and ensuring they are supported by a dedicated experienced partner, smart brands will avoid the pitfalls of insecure authentication and obtain increased returns on their investment by leveraging authentication throughout the circular lifecycle of their products.

Explore each of these insights in our latest white paper: Learn how to secure your Digital IDs and Product Passports, as well as how Secure by Design product authentication can be used to unlock value throughout your organisation, by downloading our latest free white paper Connected Products: why authentication is a hygiene factoror contacting us to arrange a consultation or a demo.

27 Apr 2023

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