A fingerprint is unique. No two are alike, which makes them ideal for biometric authentication. Until they're not.
A hacker named Jan Krissler, also known as starbug, reported that he replicated the fingerprint of Germany's defense minister Ursula von der Leyen by using several photographs of her right thumb taken at public events.
IPhone 5S: How Fingerprint Scanners Work
Krissler and fellow hacker Tobias Fiebig presented their findings Dec. 27 at the 31st annual Chaos Computer Club convention in Hamburg, Germany. The CCC is considered Europe's largest association of hackers.
To clone the fingerprint, Krissler pieced together a close-up photo of von der Leyen's thumb with several other images taken from different angles. Then he used a commercially available fingerprint identification technology called VeriFinger to make a digital image of von der Leyen's print.
This is not the first time Krissler has presented evidence that biometric identification, such as face, iris and fingerprint recognition, is not 100 percent fool-proof.
In 2008, he published a fingerprint belonging to Wolfgang Schaeuble, who at the time was Germany's interior minister.
"After this talk, politicians will presumably wear gloves when talking in public," Kissler said at the Chaos Computer Club conference.
Event Horizon: 10 Tech Trends Coming In 2015
That's probably a bit of an exaggeration, though. All security methods have their flaws. And by pointing them out, software engineers can - hopefully - improve the software.
There is still a place for fingerprint identification, as well as other forms of biometric security.
As Emil Protalinski of Venture Beat points out, fingerprints "can still be more secure than PIN codes in many cases, and can always be used in conjunction with them or other types of passwords for multiple layers of security."
via BBC and Venture Beat