Why You Shouldn’t Flash the Peace Sign in a Photo

Maybe you should think twice before flashing a popular hand gesture when having your photo taken, or taking your own.

Flashing the peace sign for a photograph could you leave you vulnerable to having your fingerprints stolen. At least that’s what Japanese professor Isao Echizen says. Echizen, a professor at the Digital Content and Media Sciences Research Division of the National Institute of Informatics, recently told Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun that he’s “successfully obtained fingerprints from photos of exposed fingers taken from up to three metres away,” according to this CNET.com story.

Posing for selfies while flashing a peace sign next to your face is popular around the world, but especially so in Japan. Unfortunately, it allows identity thieves to pair fingerprints with a face. Echizen, along with his team at the National Institute of Informatics, has been busy working on fingerprint anti-theft prevention technology.

The “titanium-oxide based substance can obscure and even produce false images of any fingerprints that find their way into frame,” according to the CNET story.

This isn’t the first time the subject has come up. Back in 2014, The Guardian published a story about a hacker using high res photos to fake a German defense minister’s fingerprints.

Jan Krissler, a hacker known as Starbug and a speaker at the Chaos Communication Congress, an annual meeting of hackers that takes place in Germany, demonstrated what’s possible using commercial software. Using a photo of Ursula von der Leyen that her own office issued in a press release, as well as one he snapped himself, he demonstrated how to reverse-engineer a fingerprint. As the story reports, Starbug is quite familiar with biometric security, and likes to showcase his knowledge in high-profile stunts, like in 2013 when he he made fun of Apple’s TouchID sensors on the iPhone 5S, as seen in this Vimeo video.


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Image: Unsplash