Photos Give Fingerprint Data to Hackers

Photos Give Fingerprint Data to Hackers
Hackers can take fingerprint data from photos of hands and use it to fool biometric security systems.

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(CCM) — Criminals can steal fingerprint data from photos published on social media sites like Facebook and use it to get access laptops, smartphones, and other devices protected by fingerprint recognition technology, according to researchers at Japan's National Institute of Informatics (NII). The researchers successfully lifted the biometric information from fingerprints based in photographs taken by a digital camera nine feet away, according to a report in the Japan Times. "Just by casually making a peace sign in front of a camera, fingerprints can become widely available," researcher Isao Echizen warned. "Fingerprint data can be recreated if fingerprints are in focus with strong lighting in a picture." He added that the process of taking the biometric information from photographs is easy and requires no special technology or equipment.

To protect people's privacy when they have their photographs taken, the NII has gone so far as to develop a transparent titanium oxide film that can be applied to fingertips to obscure the fingerprints. It claims that the film prevents identity theft while still allowing the wearer to use fingerprint readers successfully. But the film will not be ready to be sold commercially for another two years, according to the report.

Image: © iStock.