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Peace-sign selfie fools menaced by fingerprint-harvesting tech

Cute photo? Your biometrics just got raided, boffins warn

By Darren Pauli, 12 Jan 2017

Researchers from Japan's National Institute of Informatics say people's fingerprints could be extracted from photographs using yet-to-be built technology.

The eggheads warn that fingerprints can be copied from photographs snapped up to three metres from targets. Prints would need to be captured clearly in strong lighting, researcher Isao Echizen told the Sankei Shimbun newspaper and broadcaster Yomiuri TV.

The technology required to replicate fingerprints is not considered advanced but is some two years from development, apparently.

“Just by casually making a peace sign in front of a camera, fingerprints can become widely available,” Echizen says. “Fingerprint data can be recreated if fingerprints are in focus with strong lighting in a picture."

The three-metre range to nab fingerprints is likely to capture scores of selfie-takers, he says. The research team has created a transparent titanium oxide film which will mask prints within photographs, yet permit validation with biometric scanners now woven into many mobile devices.

The findings appear of particular interest to their country given the two-fingered peace or victory sign is seen as an iconic gesture within east-asian popular cultures. ®

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