Security Labels Printing Knowledge
Security Labels

There are many different options for adding security to your labels. The type of security you use on your labels will depend on the label use, the desired level of security and what you are trying to protect against, such as counterfeiting or product fraud. To provide the proper level of security, many times several security features are used. Shown below are various security options that are available for you to use on your labels.

Tamper Evident Labels

Tamper evident labels show evidence of tampering by leaving a message on the surface that it is removed from. The words "VOID" or "OPENED" appear when the label is removed. It is used to indicate to the authorized user of the product that the product has been tampered with prior to the user receiving it. It is also used to discourage unauthorized transfer or theft of company assets, such as computer hardware and other equipment. The label cannot be replaced without indication that it was tampered with. Tamper evident labels can be ordered with a custom message if you have a special phrase that you would like to show when the label is tampered with.

Another version of the tamper evident label is a cut and reseal label. This label has the same tamper evident feature, where if the label is pull up from the surface it is adhered to it will leave a message on the surface, but it also has an additional feature. If the labels is slit to try to gain access without pulling up the label, and then resealed, the message will not immediately appear but will appear after one hour.

Tamper evident labels work well on the seal of small containers and packages and as labels identifying parts and equipment. They help to protect against tampering and theft. Some of the products that benefit from this type of security label are pharmaceuticals, electronic equipment, inventory security, baby food, retail products and other security sensitive applications. 

Destructible Labels

Destructible labels are made of a highly destructible material that tears very easily. The labels are impossible to remove and replace in one piece. Attempts to remove result in the label flaking off in pieces. Tampering is easily detected. They protect against tampering, theft and unauthorized transfer of company property. They are also used on pharmaceutical products and other security related items.

Destructible labels are available with serialized numbering or you can get them unnumbered and number them yourself using a permanent marker. Bar code labels are also available as a destructible labels for items that you want marked with bar code numbering.


Holograms are a good security provider for labels. They can be added to most any type of labels. They guard against forgery because they cannot be copied successfully and they are very difficult to duplicate. Holograms are used to add security to a product and for promotional purposes. For more details on holograms, see Security - Design Features or Finishing - Foil Stamping - Holograms.

Some of the markets that use the hologram as a security option are pharmaceutical, retail, credit cards, identification cards, certificates and negotiable documents. Holograms are available in standard designs and can also be special ordered with a custom design.

Security Bar Codes

A security bar code label cannot be copied by a copier. The background of the label is a black laminate that has been printed black in a dye based ink, which will not absorb infrared light. The laminate is bonded to the bar code which is printed on a film label with a carbon based ink which will absorb infrared light. When viewing the bar code area, you will not physically see the bar code on the laminated label, but the infrared scanner will be able to read the carbon based ink since it absorbs light. The bar code will appear black to the scanner and the background will appear white. Security bar codes are used on employee identification cards and security badges.

Security Inks

Thermochromatic ink can be used on labels that are attached to products that must be kept at a predetermined temperature or needs to be kept in a controlled environment. The label can indicate to the consumer if the product has been handled properly. The label will show a particular shade of gray or color as proof that the proper temperature was maintained.

Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) Labels

EAS labels are used as anti-theft devices. The label is used along with EAS detection equipment to detect if an item is being removed without authorization. The EAS systems are used in stores, data centers and libraries. The label is applied to an item and if the label has not been properly deactivated it will set off an alarm when passing through the electronic surveillance detector. When the item is purchased or checked out, the label is made inactive by the use of a deactivation device. Once the label is deactivated it is referred to as a "dead label". Labels that have not been deactivated are referred to as "live labels".

There are several different types of technologies used for EAS labels. The most common types are AM (Acousto-Magnetic), EM (electro-magnetic), and RF (Radio Frequency). AM EAS systems use a transmitter to create a detection field. If the label is not deactivated properly, an alarm will go off when the item containing the EAS label passes through the detection field. With the EM EAS system, a low frequency electro-magnetic field is created to form the detection field. RF EAS systems use radio frequency to create the detection field. Each of the EAS systems has its own detection equipment that must be used to allow the system to work properly.

The EAS labels and EAS systems work well to provide protection against theft and eliminate the need to protect high price items behind locked doors and in locked cases. This allows the consumer to examine the product more closely before purchasing.

Microscopic Tracer Particles

Microscopic tracer particles are molecules that can be coded in a unique sequence for your specific application. They can be incorporated into the paper or film that you are going to use for your labels. They are used for authentication purposes. The authenticity of the label is verified by the use of a electronic reader. The use of microscopic tracer particles provides a high level of security but can be an expensive option. The reader alone costs over $5000.


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