Re­searchers copy fin­ger­prints from peace sign pho­tos

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION&ANALYSIS -

JA­PANESE re­searchers said they had suc­cess­fully copied fin­ger­print data from a dig­i­tal pic­ture of a per­son flash­ing a two-fin­gered “V” or peace sign, rais­ing ques­tions about the po­ten­tial theft of such in­for­ma­tion.

“One can use it to as­sume an­other iden­tity, such as ac­cess­ing a smart­phone or break­ing and en­ter­ing into a re­stricted area such as an apart­ment,” said Isao Echizen, a pro­fes­sor at Ja­pan’s Na­tional In­sti­tute of In­for­mat­ics.

Echizen and fel­low re­searcher Ta­teo Ogane re­pro­duced an ex­per­i­ment on Fri­day in which they ex­tracted Echizen’s fin­ger­prints from a dig­i­tal pho­to­graph taken at a dis­tance of 3 me­tres. The high-res­o­lu­tion pho­to­graph was taken with a 135mm lens mounted on a dig­i­tal SLR cam­era.

Fin­ger­print scan­ners have found their way into mobile phones, lap­tops, ex­ter­nal hard drives and elec­tronic wal­lets as an al­ter­na­tive to au­then­ti­ca­tion us­ing pass­words or per­sonal iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­bers (PINs).

NTT Do­como, Ja­pan’s big­gest mobile car­rier, said it had not re­ceived any re­ports of mis­use of such data on cus­tomers’ de­vices.

“Fin­ger­print au­then­ti­ca­tion is used for many pur­poses, in­clud­ing smart­phones, and each man­u­fac­turer de­cides how the au­then­ti­ca­tion process is main­tained,” spokesman Ya­su­taka Imai said. “We’ll con­tinue to mon­i­tor the sit­u­a­tion care­fully.” – Reuters

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