Fighting fake diplomas with blockchain

With SWITCHverify, university diplomas can be certified, protected against forgery and their authenticity efficiently verified.

Text: Robert Ott, published on 23.11.2020

Fake diplomas are a serious problem in the academic sector. A simple Google search for ‘buy fake university diploma’ turns up thousands of results. Some service providers even promise to deliver fake diplomas within 24 hours.

Today, university diplomas can be edited with a few clicks, including sensitive data like grades or the names of graduates. Fake diplomas can seriously damage the credibility of institutions and of a university education in general. In addition, potential employers are having to check with universities whether the diplomas they receive are genuine. For universities, these enquiries mean a considerable amount of administrative work, which can be eliminated with an up-to-date solution. SWITCH responded to the demand for a joint solution for Swiss universities by developing SWITCHverify.

SWITCHverify protects against fake diplomas

SWITCHverify is a quick and simple solution that stores a digital fingerprint of a diploma in a public blockchain. It can be used to check whether a diploma is genuine in a matter of seconds.

Certify diplomas

Universities can have diplomas certified with minimal effort. The organisation determines which PDF documents it wishes to certify. The documents can be automatically certified in the university’s existing ERP/LMS system via an API, or manually via a web application. SWITCHverify subsequently adds security features to the diplomas in the form of metadata. In addition, a digital document fingerprint known as a hash is stored in a blockchain.

Validate diplomas in real time

Thanks to SWITCHverify, the authenticity of certified diplomas can be verified via drag-and-drop on switch.ch/verify or on an organisation’s own website. The validity evaluation appears immediately.

Privacy by design, simple technical implementation and low costs

SWITCHverify complies with Swiss and European data protection requirements; documents are not uploaded to the cloud for certification or verification. It can be used via API (automatic certification) or web application (manual drag-and-drop certification), which keeps the technical implementation simple. The costs are based on the number of students and the organisation.

From pilot phase to service

SWITCHverify has been in the pilot phase since July 2020 and is in the process of linking to a number of universities including the University of St.Gallen (HSG). For Chief Information Officer Harald Rotter, SWITCHverify is already "a clean and elegant solution for securely certifying our diplomas that relieves us of the unnecessary administrative burden of authenticating diplomas." Connection will be optimised during the pilot phase, which is already showing promise regarding productivity. SWITCHverify is expected to go into productive operation on 1 January 2022.

Onboarding is already under way for interested universities. Feel free to get in touch with us.

E-Mail: verify@switch.ch

Robert Ott, SWITCHverify Project Manager
Tania Stephan, Head of Procurement
Laurent Combe, Sales SWITCHverify (fr,it)

switch.ch/verify

About the author
Robert   Ott

Robert Ott

Robert Ott has worked for SWITCH since February 2020 and is in charge of the SWITCHverify project. Prior to that, he worked for various start-up companies in the field of innovation in Switzerland and the US. He completed a Master’s degree in Computer Science at the University of Wollongong in Australia.

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