Applied Sciences Security

German biometric expert duplicates fingerprints from photographs !

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Think your biometric safety systems are safe? Your fingerprints, are obviously unique- no one could possibly breach your security without your prints to verify your identity (unless you are killed, or held at gunpoint, of course)


Think again. Every system has loopholes- and the extremely talented hackers from the Chaos Computer Club- Europe’s biggest association of hackers- have found one. At the 31st convention of the club, held at Hamburg, Germany, Jan Krissler- better known as ‘Starbug’ in the hacking circles, who is a security researcher and biometrics expert by the way, gave a presentation that went well over an hour- about how he recreated German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen’s fingerprints.

His arsenal? A “standard photo camera”, and a biometrics software called Verifinger. We know that prints can be picked up from polished surfaces, like glass. Starbug found a way to circumvent the obstacle of obtaining the physical material- and he believes “politicians will presumably wear gloves when talking in public.”

The main photographs were close ups of the Defense Minister’s thumb, taken from different angles, from a press conference in October. Last year, Krissler himself had demonstrated a means of bypassing Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor with a photo of the original user’s fingerprint. Of course, this can extend to facial recognition systems that can be fooled through similar moves.


Are finger prints completely useless now ? No, this revelation does not completely manage to thwart bio metrics- only highlights the fact that security needs to be multi-layered.  Security experts have come up with ideas that involve biometric keys that do not focus on a single aspect of a person’s body. Vein pattern analysis is also on the charts- it is one of the few traits not outwardly visible.

This, predictably disturbs a hornets’ nest- forcing someone to unlock their phone using the law is a direct violation of the Fifth Amendment in USA- which is exactly what a judge ruled in favor of, in a Virginia Circuit Court.

At any rate- one piece of good advice does follow, very politely given by  ‘Starbug’- Wear gloves !

IMAGE : FLICKR / CC 2.0/ BramCymet

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