Fingerprint of German Defence Minister copied by Hacker from Chaos Computer Club

Your fingerprints can be lifted from your public images without your knowledge!

If you thought biometrics, the fingerprints part, was the ultimate tool in personal safety than think again.  A German hacker Jan Krissler who goes by online handle of Starbug has found out a way to generate your fingerprints without having access to the objects touch by you.

As surprising as it may sound, Starbug managed to generate the fingerprint of German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen without even being physically close to her. He  simply scanned her thumb in photos that have been made public by media outlets.

Making a presentation as the ongoing Chaos Computer Club hacker conference in Hamburg, Starbug explained how the biometric feature can be reproduced from images of victims finger.

Using a tool called Verifinger, he managed to generate von der Leyen’s fingerprint relying on a photo of her thumb, taken at a news conference in October 2014. To make the fingerprint a perfect match, he used additional close-range photographs as well.

Neurotechnology’s latest VeriFinger 7.0 version is NIST MINEX compliant, as it is based on the MegaMatcher fingerprint identification engine that has been acknowledged by NIST as suitable for use in personal identity verification (PIV) program applications.

VeriFinger’s features include high accuracy for matching rolled and flat fingerprints, detection of the fingerprint even if it is rotated, deformed, or has only 5-7 similar minutiae (usually fingerprints of the same finger have 20 – 40 similar minutiae).

VeriFinger’s Fingerprint Extractor component of the application is available for consumers and comes for a price of €20 / $24.40 if up to nine licenses are purchased. During the presentation, Starbug explained the importance of this tolerance in fingerprint identification software.

It is possible to lift prints from any object a person has touched, Chaos Computer Club website says, but Starbugs demonstration shows that prints for public figures could, in theory, be reproduced from ordinary news photographs.

‘After this talk, politicians will presumably wear gloves when talking in public,’ said Starbug.

Future of fingerprint identification

Biometrics especially the fingerprints part has gained high level of popularity in the world due to the very low risk of fingerprints being copied or duplicated.  Starbug’s method if implement by conman can , bypass biometric systems integrated for securing access.

The Chaos Computer Club known popularly as CCC is Europe’s largest association of hackers. Most of the CCC members are based in Germany and thereabouts.

The CCC describes itself as “a galactic community of life forms, independent of age, sex, race or societal orientation, which strives across borders for freedom of information….” It has been characterized as “…one of the most influential digital organisations anywhere, the centre of German digital culture, hacker culture, hackitivism, and the intersection of any discussion of democratic and digital rights.

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