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New Research Suggests That Your Fingerprints Can Be Stolen From Your Photos


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Next time, before you pose for that “peace out” or “thumbs up” picture, you probably should think twice. A Japanese scientist has just revealed that reliable fingerprints can be extracted from smartphone photos taken from up to three meters away. This fact is quite disturbing given our increasing dependence on biometric authentication in almost every domain. Due to the trend of selfies, the fingerprints are becoming readily available to viewers and hackers simultaneously.

The researcher, Isao Echizen at Japan’s National Institute of Informatics (NII), was able to extract usable fingerprints from pictures taken using smartphones and says that a hacker could do the same to any image shared online. In his interview with the Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun, he said:

“Just by casually making a peace sign in front of a camera, fingerprints can become widely available”

Credits: interesting engineering
Since it is quite difficult to be always wary of not exposing your hands in a picture, Echizen’s team has suggested a solution. The team has created a transparent sticker film that is made of titanium oxide and prevents fingerprint images from being scanned quickly. According to Echizen;

“The transparent film with white patterns we have developed can prevent identity theft through fake fingerprints from photographed subjects, but does not interfere with identity verification with fingerprint authentication device.”

According to Robert Capps, from biometrics company NuData Security:

“We shed physical biometric data wherever we go, leaving fingerprints on everything we touch, posting selfies on social media, and videos with friends and family. Much of this information can then be captured by fraudsters. Once biometric data is stolen and resold on the Dark Web, the risk of inappropriate access to a user’s accounts and identity will persist for that person’s lifetime.”

The process of hacking biometric data, or biomimicry, is not new. According to Jan “Starbug” Krissler, a hacker was able to recreate Angela Merkel’s iris from her picture, which was used to unlock a test back in 2015. In December 2016, Twitter had to ban an app FindFace, which allowed users to find random people using their photos and allowed people to gather personal data via LinkedIn, Facebook, and other networks as well.

Do you also have concerns about the privacy of your identity and information? Comment below!

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