Computers perfectly forge Handwriting

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.

Computer crime concept

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.

6 Tips for the Family PC Fixer

Are you your family CFE? (In other words, Chief Fix Everything?)If it needs repair, do they come to you? That’s me. If it’s wood, metal or plastic, I can cut it, glue it, screw it or weld it. If it’s electrical or electronic, I’ve already broken it and now I know how to fix it. Everyone’s day job spills into personal time, like it or not. Professional cleaners clean their own homes and sometimes those of their family members. Computer technicians fix all the families PCs. Nurses are the family health practitioners. My day job is to talk about IT and some of the security around it.

I used to get pretty frequent requests to fix family PCs, which meant I’d usually have to get into my vehicle at an inopportune time and commence repairs on a device that should probably have been tossed years ago. But today, I’ve solved lots of those problems by doing a few key things to keep the upkeep down.

#1 Make everyone upgrade: Tell them no more repairing of old WinXP machines. Either upgrade to Win8 or get a Mac.

#2 Set up admin rights: Only those qualified should be able to install software. Often that means only the CFE.

#3 Set up a remote access network: Remote access software allows you to stay home to access your family members’ PCs. Whether you’re a road warrior or simply own multiple PCs or are the family fixer or just want access to all your data from anywhere, there are a few easy ways to do it. A quick search on “remote access” pulls up numerous options.

#4 Set automatic updates: Software often lets you know it needs updating. Sometimes it’s monthly; often, it’s less frequent. But by setting software to auto download and update, you reduce popups that often confuse your family members.

#5 Schedule four- to six-month reviews: By logging in at least quarterly, you can clean out any bloat, fix whatever’s broken and update whatever software licenses need attention.

#6 Install security: You need all the fundamentals, such as antivirus and a firewall, but an often overlooked security tool is a personal VPN that protects wired and wireless communications from data sniffers. Hotspot Shield VPN is a great option that protects your entire web surfing session, securing your connection at both your home internet network and on public internet networks (both wired and wireless). Hotspot Shield’s free proxy protects your identity by ensuring that all web transactions (shopping, filling out forms, downloads, etc.) are secured through HTTPS—the protected internet protocol.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.