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Science & Technology

Can your fingerprints be stolen from a photo?

By T.K. Randall
January 14, 2017 · Comment icon 6 comments

Fingerprint scanners are cropping up everywhere. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Rachmaninoff
Researchers in Japan have warned that it is now much easier for thieves to acquire your fingerprints.
Fingerprint scanners, which are used to enable access to everything from smartphones to cash machines, have become increasingly common over the last few years.

But while fingerprint scanning technology may seen like a secure way for a device to confirm who someone is, identity thieves have already succeeded in finding ways to gain unauthorized access.

According to a team at Japan's National Institute of Informatics (NII), the resolution of smartphone cameras has been increasing so much in recent years that it is now possible for criminals to steal fingerprint data from an uploaded social media image in which a person's fingertips are visible.
Selfies showing someone flashing the "peace" sign are a particularly good target for this.

"Just by casually making a peace sign in front of a camera, fingerprints can become widely available," said NII researcher Isao Echizen.

"Fingerprint data can be recreated if fingerprints are in focus with strong lighting in a picture."

While it is still very difficult to actually use this data to fool a fingerprint scanner, the researchers have warned that the technology will likely become more widely available to thieves in the future.

Source: | Comments (6)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Trihalo42 7 years ago
Unlike TV shows and movies, zooming in on low rez photos just gets a blurry close-up. Futurama addressed this
Comment icon #2 Posted by ChaosRose 7 years ago
Why should they need to be? How far away are we from everyone having some tech gadget that only opens using their fingerprint? How easy is it to hack said gadgets?
Comment icon #3 Posted by ROGER 7 years ago
Comment icon #4 Posted by nyuk 7 years ago
Going back 20 years I worked weekends for security firm collecting cash and they were talking about using drivers fingerprint to open cash van doors. The idea being only the driver could access the vehicle. This wasn't put in place at the time but with advances in technology I guess technically it would be possible now although I'm not sure it would really be worth doing
Comment icon #5 Posted by Hankenhunter 7 years ago
Seems all you would need to beat fingerprint technology is a pair of pruning shears. At least that is what television has taught me. Also can't a fingerprint be scanned into a computer and be recreated with a 3d printer? /not computer savvy.
Comment icon #6 Posted by cluey 7 years ago
digital enhancement does do amazing things........history has shown even either peeling your finger from prints does't stop much........unless your close up photographing your fingers.....then you should not worry......

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