Here’s how taking a selfie could enable hackers to steal your fingerprints


Pretty much everyone is aware that you shouldn’t post sensitive and personally identifying information on social media.

You wouldn’t post your address, plane ticket or password online and for the majority of the time, this means we are safe from scammers.

Worryingly, it is believed that scammers now have technology where they can recreate your fingerprints from an innocent enough selfie such as holding your hands up in a peace sign.

It was researchers at Japan’s National institute of Informatics (NII) that discover that fingerprints could be copied from images taken from up three metres away and so long as the image was well lit and clear, there was no need for any advanced technology.


“Just by casually making a peace sign in front of a camera, fingerprints can become widely available,” Professor Isao Echizen, a security and digital media researcher at the NII, told local paper Sankei Simbun.

Of course, questioning biometrics isn’t new as back in 2015, hacker Jan “Starbug” recreate Angela Merkel’s iris from a photo and used it to unlock a test.

The problem is, biometrics cannot be easily changed in the same manner as you can a password.

“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,” said Robert Capps, from biometrics company NuData Security.

“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 Japanese researchers have developed a transparent film that can be applied to finger tips to prevent copying although this seems an extreme solution that is unlikely to take off.

Another company, Goodix based in China, has developed a “live” fingerprint scanner that requires a pulse and analysis of underlying tissue. This seems a much better long-term solution.

Source: Japan Times 


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