You can’t change your fingerprint like you can change your password. But why would you want to change your fingerprint? The thought might cross your mind if your fingerprint gets stolen.
How the heck can this happen? Ask Starbug. He’s a hacker who demonstrated just how this could happen at an annual meeting of hackers called the Chaos Communication Congress, says an article at thegardian.com. His “victim” was defense minister Ursula von der Leyen.
Starbug (real name Jan Krissler) used VeriFinger, a commercial software, with several photos of von der Leyen’s hands taken at close range. One of the photos he took, and the other was from a publication.
And this gets more fun, total and complete James Bond stuff: The conference showed that “corneal keylogging” can happen. Reflections in the user’s eyes occur as they type. Photos of these reflections can be analyzed to figure out what they typed. This is another lovely gateway to getting passwords.
But back to the fingerprint thing. In 2013, says The Guardian article, Starbug took a fingertip smudge from a smartphone, and using a few clever techniques, printed an imposter finger. He used the fake thumb to get into the phone. This shows it’s possible to crack into a mobile device with a stolen fingerprint—obtained without even having to be near the victim.
Biometrics is a groundbreaking advance in security, and it was just a matter of time before hackers would figure a way to weaken it. All is not lost. Hacks like this aren’t easy to accomplish and there’s always multi factor authentication available as another layer of protection.
Biometrics can certainly be a replacement for passwords, but again should include, a second-factor authentication. Passwords are secrets, stored inside people’s heads (ideally, rather than written on hardcopy that someone could get ahold of), but biometric features, such as fingerprints, photos and voice IDs, are out there for all to perceive. Though it’s hard to imagine how a hacker could figure out a way to fool voice recognition software, don’t count this out.