Handwriting analysts really have their work cut out from them now, thanks to the development of new software that can forge—better than a human can—a person’s handwriting. So if you are worried about identity theft, add one more element to the kettle: a crook getting ahold of this software (developed at the University College London) and perfectly duplicating your signature.
Previous attempts to create computer generated forgery that looked real have flopped, a la, “This looks like a computer did it!”
A new algorithm has been invented that very much simulates the way a human creates handwriting. One of the tell-tale signs of computer generated signatures or other cursive is that it looks too perfect, particularly the linking of characters to each other.
The new algorithm captures the human qualities of penmanship, including:
- The joining of the characters. Note that with those fancy fonts that look handwritten, the joining of each letter is so perfect that you can tell it is computer generated.
- Varying degrees of thickness of the characters—which results from continuous changes of pressure that a person exerts on the writing implement, as well as varying flow of ink from the pen.
- Horizontal and vertical spacing of characters.
These variations mimic the handwriting of a human, not robot. All the algorithm needs is one paragraph of someone’s handwriting to calculate and deliver the replication.
And you are probably wondering why this algorithm was developed, aside from maybe the researchers’ hunger for finally figuring out the puzzle to replicating handwriting with a computer. Obviously, this technology can get into the wrong hands, such as those of identity thieves, plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits who want to forge a doctor’s signature, and other litigants in legal cases.
But this algorithm has a place in the world of good. For instance, for those whose ability to physically generate cursive is impaired can use this tool to create stylish handwriting or writing that looks like theirs used to.
Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.