Critique on Information Security Paper
Product Piracy Prevention: Product Counterfeit Detection without Security Labels
Authors: Christian Horr of the Department of Industrial Automation Technology at Berlin Institute of Technology
Matthias Blankenburg and Jorg Kuger of 2Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology
Thesis statement of the article
The authors of this article suggest that the present measures that are being taken to combat the counterfeiting of consumer goods and their circulation in world markets are inadequate. In particular, they are faulting the (over) reliance on Radio Frequency Identification Tags to ascertain the authenticity of commodities being transported.
The researchers chose the European Economy as a sample representative of cross border movement of pirated goods and the financial implication of the same.
In the introduction of the study, this document details the facts about piracy and thus explains to the reader why it has a negative impact on the markets and end users by default. There is no explanation of what piracy is and this is indicative that the document is not targeted at a widespread audience. The moderate use of jargon and the assumption that the reader knows what piracy is suggests that this study has audiences that have been following up on the progress of piracy and the measures that are being taken to stem it. These are likely to be customs officials, computer technicians who work at border entry points, the manufacturers who are the hardest hit by the counterfeiting of their products and also consumers who have a penchant for product knowledge.
To emphasize the almost unassailable rate at which piracy has been growing, the introductory part of the document features a bar graph showing the cases that customs officials have been handling across borders of European Union countries. The use of bar graphs is not only functional but also dramatic since it gives the reader a chance to form a mental image of just how rapidly the international counterfeiting industry is growing. Another application of graphics to send the message home is the models of monitoring mechanisms that have been placed in international points of entry all across the European Union. Rather than place the current as well as ideal model in form of text, the document employs simple and easily recognizable graphics for the reader to quickly internalize the discussion. This diagram exposes the weakness in the current system as well as the way the system can be strengthened and made more effective. These also break the monotony of continuous reading thus making the document interactive in a way.
The use of financial estimates per year contributes to the authenticity of the document and it suggests that deep research conducting the financial aspect of piracy was conducted.
The limitation of the RFID tags is also well brought out since it does not in any way enable the system to ascertain the physical qualities of goods being inspected. The introduction of the human element is crucial to illustrating the new innovation that is being proposed as a method of curbing piracy across the board. This is because the human abilities to distinguish texture, size, patterns and quality were pretty much left to the wayside yet they are the most basic of indicators of counterfeit goods. The article does not hail the proposed technological innovation as the ultimate fix it to the world’s commodity piracy woes. It is however modelled as a step in the right direction since a large proportion of counterfeit goods have these unique qualities.
The idea of using product inherent IDs to curb counterfeiters is also developed bit by bit and at the same time linked with the previous section that points out weaknesses and limitations of the RFID system of inspection. The presentation of the conceptual framework of product inherent IDS is also simplified with diagrams without making the ideas seem minimalistic in any way. The manner in which the proposed innovation is meant to mimic human sensations is also well illustrated through simple representative images that send the message. This minimizes the potential for ambiguity or gaps in understanding when new concepts are being introduced or explained on paper.
By the time a reader is half way through the text, (s) he is curious about how the proposed system will employ the sense of smell as well as texture. These are inherently human abilities and unlike imagery and dimensions which are known to be possible through some machines, there is limited information or discussion about automated sensing of smell or texture. This curiosity is then adequately handled in the explanation of how the systems will work. At this point of the document however, the author will have to drop of nearly all audiences save for the scientifically inclined.
This is because the jargon that is being applied gets stepped up several notches. Graphical illustrations also become increasingly complex, requiring prior knowledge of similar systems for one to keep up with the content as the document progresses. This part of the article also features several formulae. A reader who does not have specialist knowledge yet has some level of interest can however skim through the items presented here and the basic logic behind each component of the product-inherent features’ method of detecting fakes.
Whether it is by design of by default, the use of consumer goods commonly counterfeited and also purchased generates a slightly higher level of interest for the reader than if abstract objects were used to illustrate the workings of the system. The items featured here are different types of shoes as well as a basketball jersey. This is perhaps placed here for those who are curious about the way the proposed system is going to be implemented on such commodities. The different facets of the system that have been introduced are then augmented together in the form of a major workflow diagram to illustrate the process that the system will be following before a decision is made on an item’s authenticity or the lack of.
One element that is conspicuously absent from this article is the potential drawbacks that are associated with such a system. As much as it is a revolutionary idea, it is important to highlight the present or potential obstacles that may hinder the new technology (s) from keeping international trade in counterfeit products at an all-time low. This is particularly peculiar considering the fact that this same article commences by pointing out the glaring weaknesses in the present system of counterfeit inspection.
Overally however, this article has been well prepared in terms of flow of ideas, the choice of words and creative use of diagrams that have worked together to make a convincing case for product-inherent features inspection as the future of anti-counterfeit trade measures.