Striking a peace sign in selfies could lead to fingerprint data theft, researchers warn

The proliferation of mobile devices with high-quality cameras and social media sites where photographs can be easily posted is raising the risk of personal information being leaked, according to reports

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 January, 2017, 7:23pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 January, 2017, 9:49pm

Could flashing the “peace” sign in photos lead to fingerprint data being stolen?

Research by a team at Japan’s National Institute of Informatics (NII) says so, raising alarm bells over the popular two-fingered pose.

Fingerprint recognition technology is becoming widely available to verify identities, such as when logging on to smartphones, tablets and laptop computers.

Fingerprint data can be recreated if fingerprints are in focus with strong lighting in a picture
NII researcher Isao Echizen

But the proliferation of mobile devices with high-quality cameras and social media sites where photographs can be easily posted is raising the risk of personal information being leaked, reports said.

The NII researchers were able to copy fingerprints based on photos taken by a digital camera three metres away from the subject.

“Just by casually making a peace sign in front of a camera, fingerprints can become widely available,” NII researcher Isao Echizen told the Sankei Shimbun newspaper for an article published on Monday.

“Fingerprint data can be recreated if fingerprints are in focus with strong lighting in a picture,” Echizen also told Yomiuri TV.

He added that advanced technology was not necessary and anyone could easily copy fingerprints.

But NII says it has developed a transparent film containing titanium oxide that can be attached to fingers to hide their prints, the reports said.

The film prevents identity theft but does not interfere with fingerprints being effective in identity verification, the Sankei Shimbun reported.

But the technology would not be ready for another two years, the paper said.