Feeds

Gummi bears defeat fingerprint sensors

Sticky problem for biometrics firms

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

A Japanese cryptographer has demonstrated how fingerprint recognition devices can be fooled using a combination of low cunning, cheap kitchen supplies and a digital camera.

First Tsutomu Matsumoto used gelatine (as found in Gummi Bears and other sweets) and a plastic mould to create a fake finger, which he found fooled fingerprint detectors four times out of five.

Flushed with his success, he took latent fingerprints from a glass, which he enhanced with a cyanoacrylate adhesive (super-glue fumes) and photographed with a digital camera. Using PhotoShop, he improved the contrast of the image and printed the fingerprint onto a transparency sheet.

Here comes the clever bit.

Matsumoto took a photo-sensitive printed-circuit board (which can be found in many electronic hobby shops) and used the fingerprint transparency to etch the fingerprint into the copper.

From this he made a gelatine finger using the print on the PCB, using the same process as before. Again this fooled fingerprint detectors about 80 per cent of the time.

Fingerprint biometric devices, which attempt to identify people on the basis of their fingerprint, are touted as highly secure and almost impossible to fool but Matsumoto's work calls this comforting notion into question. The equipment he used is neither particularly hi-tech, nor expensive and if Matsumoto can pull off the trick what would corporate espionage boffins be capable of?

Matsumoto tried these attacks against eleven commercially available fingerprint biometric systems, and was able to reliably fool all of them.

Noted cryptographer Bruce Schneier, the founder and CTO of Counterpane Internet Security, described Matsumoto's work as more than impressive.

"The results are enough to scrap the systems completely, and to send the various fingerprint biometric companies packing," said Schneier in yesterday's edition of his Crypto-Gram newsletter, which first publicised the issue. ®

Related Stories

Marker pens, sticky tape crack music CD protection
Biometric passports for Brits - by 2006
Face recognition useless for crowd surveillance
Iris recognition is best biometric system
PC card gives notebook thieves the finger

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
China hacked US Army transport orgs TWENTY TIMES in ONE YEAR
FBI et al knew of nine hacks - but didn't tell TRANSCOM
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.