DexSecurity Solutions (DSS) is a South African pioneer in the fields of information security, identification and verification technology. Its technologies help customers to protect, track, and manage their physical and electronic assets.
DSS is a member of the worldwide Dex Group of companies, a business with a 20-year track record. It was established in 1995 when the Dex Group acquired Deloitte & Touche Technologies as part of its plan to diversify from development of software for the insurance and financial services industry into the business of information security.
Over the last six years, DSS has used its skills and intellectual property to grow into South Africa's leading provider of security solutions based on technologies such as two-dimensional (2D) bar codes, biometrics, and encryption.
DSS has built an enviable reputation for innovation. It was the first company in the world to explore machine-readable identity-solutions using facial, signature and finger biometrics embedded in machine-readable two-dimensional bar codes placed on an identity card.
DSS has been involved in trailblazing projects such as the rollout of the first machine-readable 2D bar code driver's licence and identity card system in the Bahamas.
The company has offices in South Africa and Brazil. Because it is at the forefront of developments in its chosen disciplines, many of its technologies are suitable for the global market. However, the fact that Dex develops its technology locally with a rand cost-base means that its solutions are also attractively priced for South African customers.
Ernest Cockcroft, DexSecurity Solutions
DSS places a heavy focus on the development of its own intellectual property, which forms the basis of most of its solutions. To ensure that it remains on the cutting edge of the fast-moving security world, DSS has established a dedicated research and development (R&D) business unit.
This R&D; company is responsible for the development of DSS' core technologies, and has already registered an armful of international patents. Its core asset is a repository of re-usable code, common application programming interfaces, and programming standards that form the heart of Dex's solutions and products.
Examples of technology building blocks that the R&D; company has developed include powerful compression and multilayer encryption technologies that together allow facial images to be compressed down to 300 bytes and stored securely in the form of a bar code. These technologies allow a signature, facial image, and fingerprint to be compressed and stored on a single 2D bar code, smartcard, laser card or I-Button.
Portable data files (PDFs) form the heart of DSS' products, applications and solutions. PDFs allow information to leave the confines of computers or networks, and travel with the person, document, or object it verifies and identifies. DSS uses a range of PDF media in its solutions: 2D bar codes, radio frequency tags, touch memory products, and smartcards.
2D bar codes
A 2D bar code is a high-density, nonlinear symbol system that allows companies to store, scan and use information in much the same way as the familiar bar codes found on products on the shelves of supermarkets. A single 2D bar code the size of a postage stamp could store the entire Gettysburg Address.
Whereas the traditional one-dimensional bar code can only store a reference to a computer database, a 2D bar code can store an entire record of data, and hence can provide useful information without needing access to an online database.
Two-dimensional bar codes are a cost-effective way of creating secure portable data since they merely need to be printed on a piece of paper or plastic. They can also be used on a broad range of media - metal, cardboard, plastic and more.
DSS provides 2D-based solutions that are tamper-proof, impossible to forge, secure, and robust enough to support recovery of all data even if 40% of the bar code is destroyed.
* Tamperproof documents. Because Dex's 2D bar codes can represent data on paper, they can be used to secure and verify documents, allowing the security offered by digital signature and certification technology to be extended to paper-based documents. DSS has invented a paper data watermark which is based on 2D bar coding technology and integrated with its document imaging solutions.
* Locally developed scanners. DSS has developed a range of locally developed bar code scanners that draw power from the host and that are completely portable. DSS has developed a 2D bar code scanner that is able to read micro 2D bar codes that can store as much data as a normal-sized bar code, but at an eighth of the size.
* Integration with other technologies. Dex has also developed a host of hybrid solutions that integrate 2D technologies with smartcards, transponders and touch memory. These solutions allow a 2D data label to be read and then written onto smartcards and touch memory.
Homegrown biometric verification systems
DSS also manufactures low-cost standalone one-to-many fingerprint verification units that can also be integrated with PDF readers so that one-to-one fingerprint verification can be carried out without need for connectivity to a LAN or PC. This product can store information for up to 1400 users, and is well-suited to applications such as building access control.
The product can be integrated with existing security systems such as swipe cards or pin-codes to provide an enhanced level of security, and it can also be linked to time and attendance systems to track employees as they enter and leave the building.
Geared towards solutions
The technologies produced by the R&D; division form the basis of a range of products and solutions aimed at the needs of a broad range of vertical industries. The technology from DSS can be used for a range of applications such as access control, identification cards, data and document security, and secure asset tracking and parts marking.
Because DSS regards the development of security and verification technology as its core business, the company turns to distribution and integration partners such as Dimension Data to carry out the implementation of most of its solutions.
One of the high-profile projects DSS is closely involved in is the rollout of a new venue access control system to manage the expected crowds of supporters attending the Cricket World Cup in February to March 2003.
The solution offered by DSS - called SafeVenue - uses a copy-protected 2D bar code that makes it near impossible to forge a ticket. The bar code contains crucial information - such as event details, gate control parameters, and ticket numbers - which is automatically scanned and verified by the readers that control the turnstiles. The database generated keeps track of the movement of attendees throughout all turnstiles and makes it impossible for tickets to be passed back to other people wanting to enter the venue.
DSS had to design its own turnstiles and readers for the project, as it could not find off-the-shelf products that met its needs anywhere in the world. The imaging heads were also locally modified to decode the copy-protected symbology, a worldwide Dex patent.
Together with its partners, the Dex Group has built solutions for a range of customers operating in a cross-section of industries. These include:
* Unimed (Brazil)
* Lloyds of London
* AGF Brasil Seguroses
* African Insurance Organization
* Bahamas Government
* Absa Insurance Brokers
* Ford Motor Company of SA
* Volkswagen Brazil
* Renault Brazil
* Daimler Chrysler Brazil
* SA Eagle Insurance
* United Cricket Board of SA
* Alexander Forbes
* SA Civil Aviation Authority
* Compass Insurance Company
* Banco PanAmericano
Source: Maurice McDowell, Consulting Editor, eSecure