Keynote 2 : Robust watermarking for print-scan attack:Application to improve the security of official documents

Prof. Rachid Harba,
Orléans University, France


Invisible watermarking for identity (ID) images printed on plastic card support is a challenging problem that interests the industrial world. In the study presented in ICHICS 2016, we developed a watermarking algorithm robust to various attacks existing in this case. These attacks are mainly related to the print/scan process on the plastic support (called print/scan attacks) and to the degradations that an ID card encounters along its lifetime.

The watermarking scheme that was developed operates in the Fourier domain as this transform has invariance properties against global geometrical modifications during print/scan. The chosen baseline method is that of Poljicak et al. To improve its robustness, two other approaches were also considered. The first one, a preventive approach, consists of pre-processing the host vector before embedding the mark by reducing the variance of the support vector of the mark. Indeed, it was experimentally shown that reducing the variance increased the robustness. This experimental finding was theoretically demonstrated. The second one, a curative approach, comprises two counterattacks to correct the blur and the color variations. Deblurring was performed using an adapted Wiener filter which was more efficient compared to blind deconvolution or unsharp filters.

For a false alarm probability of 10-4, we obtained an error reduction of more than 22% over the reference method of Poljicak and the total error was lower than 1%. The detection algorithm takes less than 1 second for a 512×512 image with a conventional computer, which is compatible with the industrial application. The effects of card durability attacks along its lifetime was also numerically assessed.

This work was supported by the French firm Gemalto (contract SUREO 13090), was supported by the French-Morocan Egide Program Toubkal MA-12-279, and by the Moroccan government.


About the Speaker:



Rachid Harba graduated from the ENS Cachan in Electrical Engineering, Paris, France, in 1983, and obtained his PhD thesis in Electrical Engineering in 1985 in INPG Grenoble, France. In 1988 he became an associate professor at the Orléans University, France, and he is now a Professor at the Orléans university, in the Polytech’Orléans department. He is teaching signal and image processing, computer science, and statistics. He has been Director of the LESI research laboratory in Orléans more than 10 years, responsible of a master program in electronic, administrative responsible of the teachers in Electrical Engineering in the University of Orleans, and is now responsible of the Mundus international teaching program at Polytech.
His research interest’s concerns statistical signal and image processing, with emphasis to medicine and for industrial applications. He has developed a fractal analysis system to assess the quality of bone architecture leading to the creation of the skeletal ultra analysis BMA (, was interested in bioluminescence images of little mice to improve cancer detection, in the analysis of biological signal (ecg and pcg) for various medical applications, in the improvement of the Galileo positioning system, in the analysis of natural surfaces (clay and meteorites). More recently, he has focused on the study of multi-shell multichannel dMRI for the brain, on the analysis of thermal images to the early detection of diabetic foot, and on the development of dedicated watermarking analysis for the industry. He is the author or co-author of more than 120 international publications. He has been the director of 17 PhD students, is currently director of 3 PhD students, and has been member of the jury of more than 60 PhD defense. He receive an annual grant of excellence research from the French government since 10 years. He had numerous contracts with the industry, and has been involved in several international research programs (Ecos-Nord with Colombia, Toubkal with Morocco, and FinCyt with Peru). International experiences also include a 3 months sabbatical in the University of Rhode Island, USA. He is reviewer for several international journals, has been chairman à IEEE IECON 2007 and invited speaker in AMINA 2006 in Monastir, Tunisia, and CONEIMARA 2009 in Cusco, Peru.

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