skip to main content

2,634 shops listed | Last updated: 08 December 2019

Monitor Add a site

Security of fingerprint scanners questioned after Japanese breakthrough

02 February 2017 - 09:56 by Mike Price

Share on

Many security experts argue that the age in which online security relies solely on password protection to prevent unwanted access to accounts and personal information should soon come to an end. And the rise of biometric scanning tech might be a worthy replacement, enabling people to use their unique features to make purchases via safe shopping online.

However, researchers from Japan have thrown doubt on the security of fingerprint scanners in particular by proving that it is possible to steal a person’s identity simply by analysing a picture which features their fingers, according to the Express.

Various mobile devices, including the current iPhone models, feature fingerprint scanning capabilities. But experts at the National Institute of Infomatics have created a means of capturing fingerprint data from photographs in which a person is giving the ‘peace’ sign.

This common gesture is featured in hundreds of millions of posts on social media sites, meaning it might be straightforward for crooks to access said photos, copy a user’s fingerprint and then use this to unlock their accounts and compromise their devices.

Of course, the good news is that the image used in the trials of the tech was taken using a professional DSLR camera with a high resolution sensor onboard; far higher than would be available on even the most expensive modern smartphones. But as mobile photography continues to improve, this could become more of an issue going forwards and may even dissuade people from showing their fingertips in any form.

Biometric scanning is still fairly uncommon, even when it comes to safe shopping online, but it is important for research like this to be carried out sooner rather than later, ensuring that any potential security problems are ironed out before it becomes a mainstream concern.