How to Prevent Your Credentials From Being Copied

We cannot overstate how important it is to provide secure and verifiable credentials to students and professionals seeking further education. Certificates, diplomas and degrees are confirmation of the work someone put into learning a new skill or specialising in a particular subject. Therefore, these documents should confer credibility.

Traditional methods of issuing and verifying credentials often suffer from challenges such as fraud, tampering, and inefficient processes. It is not rare to find stories of massive forgeries or professionals caught with fake credentials.

In February 2023, Forbes published an article about a diploma mill discovered in the United States. According to the story, at least 7,600 fake diplomas were issued by a nursing school in Florida. A few years ago, in 2017, an investigation in Canada discovered that at least 800 people had bought fake documents.

Although it can be very difficult to estimate how prevalent fake diplomas and credentials are, stories like this give us an idea of how the problem is more common than we might think. 

However, technology is changing this. Now, blockchain technology offers new possibilities for transforming the credentialing landscape. 

The credentials market can become more transparent and efficient with blockchain’s core principles of decentralisation, cryptography, and consensus. 

This article discusses the possibilities provided by blockchain technology when it comes to the risks of having documents altered, copied or falsified. Learn more about the dangers of having non-digital credentials copied and how digital credentials can help prevent these issues.

The risks of having credentials copied 

Falsifying a credential can cause a lot of problems for organisations tricked by the forgery and for the holders of fake documents. Every actor in the industry should be committed to preventing credentials from being copied.

Authenticity and trust

Credentials serve as a means to verify someone’s qualifications, achievements, or identity. If credentials can be easily copied or forged, it undermines the entire system.

Ensuring that these documents cannot be copied helps maintain the integrity of the verification process, which means individuals and organisations can rely on credentials as accurate representations of someone’s capabilities. 

Misrepresentation and fraud

If credentials can be easily copied, it opens the door for individuals to misrepresent their qualifications or achievements.

There are many professions and activities that require a specific type of credential ensuring workers can perform their jobs properly. If licences, diplomas, or certificates are easily forged, people can be involved in fraudulent activities. 

Credibility and reputation

Institutions or organisations that issue credentials strive to maintain their credibility and reputations. If documents can be easily copied, it can tarnish the image of these companies and undermine the value of their qualifications. 

The security and integrity of digital credentials help institutions maintain their credibility.

Fair competition

Copying credentials can create an unfair advantage for individuals who do not possess the necessary qualifications or achievements. 

When seeking job opportunities, individuals are evaluated based on their skills and accomplishments. Credentials help recruiters assess these qualifications and make decisions. 

By preventing copying, the digital credentialing system can create a level playing field and ensure that people are evaluated based on genuine merits. 

Data privacy and ownership

Analogue credentials often contain personal information and sensitive data. When copied or forged, these credentials could compromise individuals’ privacy and expose them to identity theft. 

How can credentials be copied?

To prevent credentials from being copied, it is important to be aware of the methods criminals might use to forge these documents: 

Photoshop and Graphic Editing 

Criminals may use advanced graphic editing software to alter digital copies of certificates and diplomas. This includes modifying names, grades, or other details to create fraudulent documents.

High-Quality Prints

Criminals may use high-quality printers and paper to produce realistic-looking replicas of certificates and diplomas. This can make it difficult to distinguish between genuine and forged documents.

Forgery of signatures and seals

People might attempt to replicate the signatures of authorities or officials who sign certificates and diplomas. Advanced techniques such as scanning and digital reproduction can be employed.

Criminals may also try to reproduce official seals or stamps using various methods, including 3D printing or other manufacturing techniques.


Criminals may attempt to impersonate legitimate students or graduates to gain access to their academic records. This could involve using stolen identification information or manipulating individuals to disclose sensitive information.

Digital credentials stored on the blockchain

Blockchain technology is one of the answers to the fears of copying, faking or tampering with digital credentials. 

The blockchain operates as a decentralised and distributed ledger where each transaction or record is verified and added to a chain of blocks. This makes it difficult to tamper with or alter the data stored in this public ledger.  

Since the records are publicly accessible and easy to verify, it can be difficult to copy and share digital credentials and go undetected. Any attempt to modify the data stored on the blockchain would require the consensus of the network participants. 

The blockchain is a secure and reliable method for storing digital credentials. 

How the blockchain works for digital credentials

When it comes to issuing and storing digital credentials, the blockchain typically works as follows:

Creation of credentials

A trusted issuer, such as an educational institution or a certification authority, creates a digital credential for an individual. 

The credential typically contains relevant information like the recipient’s name, the type of credential, the date of issuance, and other relevant details.

Hashing and encryption

The issuer generates a unique cryptographic hash of the credential. This hash serves as a digital fingerprint of the document. 

This identification number is then encrypted using the issuer’s private key to create a digital signature.

Storing on the blockchain

The encrypted digital signature, along with the other relevant credential information, is stored on the blockchain as a transaction. Each transaction is added to a block, which is cryptographically linked to the previous blocks, forming a chain. 

This decentralised and distributed ledger ensures that the credential’s data is transparently and immutably recorded. 

Note that to ensure the privacy of the owner of the credential, it is only the data for verification and not the content of the credential, which is stored on the blockchain.

Verification and validation

When someone needs to verify the authenticity of a digital credential, they can access the blockchain and retrieve the relevant transaction containing the information. 

They can use the issuer’s public key to decrypt the digital signature and compare it to the calculated hash of the credential. If the two hashes match, it indicates that the credential has not been tampered with since its issuance. 

Why use blockchain for digital credentials?

We have discussed the risks of having credentials copied or forged and how blockchain can be an easily verifiable and immutable solution.

Security and immutability

Blockchain technology provides a secure and tamper-proof environment for storing credentials. 

Once the information of a credential is recorded on the blockchain, it becomes part of a decentralised and distributed ledger that is difficult to alter. This ensures the integrity and immutability of credentials, reducing the risk of fraud.

Transparency and auditability

The transparent nature of the blockchain allows anyone to verify the authenticity and validity of digital credentials. By accessing the blockchain, individuals, employers, educational institutions, or any other relevant parties can verify the issuance, status, and history of a credential. 

The transparency the blockchain provides enhances trust and eliminates the need for intermediaries or centralised authorities to validate credentials. 

Ownership and control

Blockchain-based systems can empower individuals with greater ownership and control over their digital credentials.

With cryptographic keys, individuals can securely store and manage their credentials, granting or revoking access as needed. As a result, institutions and individuals don’t need to rely on centralised databases, and individuals have more control over their personal data, only sharing credentials with trusted parties.

Interoperability and portability

Blockchain-based digital credentials can be designed to be interoperable across different platforms, systems, and organisations. By adhering to common standards and protocols, blockchain digital credentials can be easily shared, verified, and accepted across various applications and institutions. 

Efficiency and cost savings

Using blockchain technology can streamline administrative processes and reduce costs associated with manual verification and record-keeping. 

With decentralised consensus mechanisms and smart contracts, credentials issuance, verification, and updates can be automated, eliminating the need for intermediaries and paperwork. This efficiency leads to cost savings and faster verification times. 

Resilience and longevity

Blockchain networks are designed to be resilient and highly available. The decentralised nature of the technology means blockchain-based digital credentials are not reliant on a single system. 

This ensures the longevity and accessibility of credentials even in the face of failures, cyber attacks, or changes in technology infrastructure. 


Certificates, diplomas, licences and other credentials are proof of expertise, credibility, skills and personal development. Therefore, it is essential that they are credible and safe while also being easily accessible and shareable. 

Having credentials copied or easily altered can significantly damage the reputation of institutions, create an unfair job experience and expose companies to risks. With that in mind, blockchain technology has transformed the way we issue, share, and verify credentials. 

The transparency and auditability of blockchain empower individuals, employers, and institutions to independently verify the authenticity and validity of credentials, fostering a more efficient and trustworthy credentialing ecosystem. 

While traditional paper-based credentials can be easily copied and forged, blockchain-based digital credentials offer a safer and more efficient way to attest to one’s abilities, educational background and professional improvement.