Feeds

Steal my ID, steal my fingers - the public gets nervous

So how many fingers do you need anyway?

Remote control for virtualized desktops

The public fears losing their fingers to ruthless biometric ID thieves in the fingerprint-controlled future, apparently. Or at least, so says Frost & Sullivan analyst Sapna Capoor, who argued unconvincingly that "A dead finger is no good to a thief."

If you have a fingerprint scanner protecting your family jewels, your data might be safe, but what about your fingers?

So, it's all getting out of hand? Then on the other... there are recorded instances of people having their fingers chopped off, and the biometric industry takes the issue seriously.

For example, there were the Malaysian crooks who nabbed a man's fingers in order to operate the biometric security on the S-class Mercedes they stole from him.

Nevertheless, biometric firms are doing what they can to detect whether a fingerprint being scanned is alive or not, said Jean Francois Mainguet, chief scientist of fingerchip biometrics at Atmel-France, and inventor of the sweeping technique for direct silicon fingerprint scanning (he was awarded his patent on 9/11, as it happens).

Speaking at Biometrics 2006 in London, Mainguet said it wasn't yet possible to detect "liveliness", and even when it was, this would guarantee security no more than a regular biometric.

"Absolute security doesn't exist," he said. If you could detect liveliness, you wouldn't be able to tell if someone was accessing some system or authorising some payment under duress or not.

Security causes an escalation of causes and reactions just like the arms race. Want to cheat the banking system? Forge an ID. Fingerprint scanner making it tricky? Chop someone's finger off. Live fingerprint scanner? Hold someone's family at gun point.

The techniques being explored for live scanners include inducing involuntary responses via an electric charge to cause a spasm in skin pressed against the glass. Or there's the use of light fluctuations to induce involuntary responses from the user of an iris scanner.

They can all be faked, said Mainguet. The electrical response, for example is as easy as making a frog's leg twitch if you have chopped carefully.

There is a solution, he said, which is to use a variety of biometrics to identify someone. Biometrics? You just can't get enough of them. At some shows, anyway. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Bladerunner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it
Go ahead, you're all clear, kid... Sorry, wrong film
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'
Former CEO has political ambitions again, according to Washington DC sources
prev story

Whitepapers

Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
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?
Business security measures using SSL
Examines the major types of threats to information security that businesses face today and the techniques for mitigating those threats.