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'Peace' signs risk fingerprint theft, says Japanese study

Monday, January 16, 2017 - 01:49

Japanese researchers warn of fingerprint theft from 'peace' signs in digital photographs. Angela Moore reports.

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Making the peace sign while having your photo taken could lead to a lot of trouble. Thieves could steal your fingerprints - that's according to Isao Echizen, a professor at Japan's National Institute of Informatics. SOUNDBITE (Japanese) ISAO ECHIZEN, JAPAN'S NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF INFORMATICS, SAYING: "If a fingerprint is stolen, if they're able to copy that fingerprint, fake ones can be produced. One can use it to assume another's identity, such as accessing a smartphone or breaking and entering into a restricted area such as an apartment." In an experiment, Echizen showed how fingerprints can be stolen from a photograph taken with a high-resolution digital camera from up to three meters away. The copied fingerprints, Echizen says, were a near 100 percent match. SOUNDBITE (Japanese) ISAO ECHIZEN, JAPAN'S NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF INFORMATICS, SAYING: "We're the first in the world to use a commercial camera in extracting information based on fingerprints." But a solution might be right at your fingertips. Biometric jammers - which are transparent film stickers made with nail art templates and white acrylic paint - may protect fingerprints from being copied. As of now, there is no evidence that hackers are using photographs to steal people's fingerprints, but the new technology could come in handy as fingerprints become used more often for shopping and security. The biometric jammers won't be available for commercial use for at least two years. Until then when taking a photo, you may want to consider just wearing gloves.

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'Peace' signs risk fingerprint theft, says Japanese study

Monday, January 16, 2017 - 01:49