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We are often times asked what is digital image ballistics which is one of the services provided by the Verifeyed Professional Edition.

Imagine that there is a set of digital images, and you need to find out if they have been captured by a particular smartphone or camera belonging to somebody. This often happens in forensic investigation, in law enforcement, insurance, financial or the media industry. For example, let’s say that somebody claims they have captured some photos and you need to verify it by testing to see if photos are really captured by his or her camera or smartphone, or there is a discovery of some digital images and you need to verify that those photos have been captured by that person’s camera.
Our cutting edge scientific technology makes this possible. The procedure of linking a digital image to a particular camera or smartphone is called image ballistics.

Image ballistics also easily differentiates between cameras and smartphones of the same make and model. Each imaging device has a sensor. An image sensor is a device that converts light, or in other words, the optical image, into an electronic signal. Most currently used sensors are CCD or CMOS sensors consisting of millions of small elements called pixels. Due to variations in the pixels size and material properties, each pixel also has its own behavior and small variations. This behavior is unique and can be used to create a so called fingerprint of that sensor. These fingerprints are used in order to carry out ballistic tests and inspect if a digital image has been taken by that particular camera.


A site called Americablog spotted a press photo of BP’s Houston command center, taken on July 16, 2010. The image had been “shopped” to include more on-screen camera action (the photo on the right side is the original one).

Today, we face the problem of digital image forgeries even in scientific literature. For instance, the Journal of Cell Biology, a premier academic journal, estimates that around twenty five (25) percent of manuscripts accepted for publication contain at least one image that has been inappropriately manipulated. In many cases, the author is only trying to clean the background and the changes do not affect the scientific meaning of the results. However, the journal also estimates that roughly one (1) percent of figures are simply fraudulent.

One of the most famous cases of digital image forgeries in a scientific area was in 2004 when a team lead by the South Korean scientist Dr. Hwang Woo-Suk published their results in stem cell research in the journal Science.Their results showed the successful cloning of stem cells. This offered hope for new cures for diseases. Later, in 2005, one of the co- authors admitted that photographs in the paper had been tampered with. This resulted in, among other things, the resignation of Dr. Hwang from his position at Seoul National University.

In July 2008, Iranian media published the image shown on the left demonstrating a successful missile test. The original image is shown on the right side. The photo was subsequently featured on the front pages of newspapers across the world on July 9, 2008. It purported to be a proof of successful launches of Iranian short- range missiles.