Disseminate identity documents on the Internet during a transaction on a site or for a real estate file: the practice is more and more frequent, but not without risk when faced with an unscrupulous recipient or simply the victim of a theft of data.
The Travelers of the World site was thus the victim of a data theft in June after which hackers distributed 7,000 copies of passports on the “darknet”. And in its latest report, the Observatory for the security of means of payment of the Banque de France was concerned about the increase in identity theft in the banking sector.
Hence the very practical “Easy watermark” tool posted on the beta.gouv.fr site, which allows you to add a personalized watermark to documents exchanged on the Internet in just two clicks. This thus makes it possible to restrict its use to the sole use previously defined by the Internet user.
In two clicks
Ultra-simple, the page was nevertheless created a bit by chance, as part of “Easy File”, a service of the Ministry of Housing aimed at facilitating the constitution of a digital file by future tenants and at reassuring landlords by allowing them to receive files validated by the State.
“For the sake of security, which is highly appreciated by users, all the pieces we distribute are watermarked: therefore many Internet users have asked us to benefit from this watermark for other uses”, says Arthur Hatchuel, product manager “Dossier easy” to the Ministry of Housing.
In a few days, the ministry’s programmers therefore extracted the lines of code from the watermark to create a new page put online last year on beta.gouv.fr, the state’s internal “start-up”, hosted by the interministerial digital directorate (Dinum).
A watermark embedded and fused to the image
In two clicks, “Easy watermark” allows you to download the document to which the site is responsible for adding the watermark of your choice. “It’s not just a simple layer that could be removed with a professional version of Acrobat: the watermark is actually embedded and merged into the image,” explains Arthur Hatchuel.
Put a watermark on the documents you distribute on the Internet to prevent fraudulent use: a small, ultra-simple but so practical service: https://t.co/CXRZ8hfd8i@DossierFacile@_DINUMpic.twitter.com/DFMH1hm6Cx
— Nicolas Seneze (@NicolasSeneze) August 4, 2023
Of course, fraud remains possible, for example by trying to erase the watermark with artificial intelligence tools, but this requires a costly effort and not within the reach of the first riffraff to come along.
“And for an identity card or a passport, which already have their own watermark, it remains difficult for these programs to do a good job”, notes Arthur Hatchuel.
A site still under construction
In one year, “Watermark easy” has however remained discreet among the more than 200 projects hosted by beta.gouv.fr: at most twenty users every day. Until, at the end of July, a post on the LinkedIn social network brought it to light and exploded the counters.
“Today, we are on average at 2,500 daily uses”, welcomes Arthur Hatchuel, who nevertheless specifies that the site is still under construction: “We have neither legal notices, nor CGU, and accessibility n is not up to the standards of the administration”. “If the success is confirmed, it could become a site in good and due form, continues the young “intrapreneur” but that would require a dedicated team. »