No vein, no gain: Wax hand beats the latest vein-recognition systems

wax hand fools vein reading system hand2

We’re bored by voice identification, fatigued by Face ID, and totally over fingerprint-reading technology. Here in the closing days of 2018, it’s all about unusual new biometric technologies like “vein authentication.” As its name suggests, this technology involves reading the unique pattern of veins on a person’s palm to confirm that they are who they say they are. Such technology is reportedly being increasingly used in high-security facilities around the world.

Only it might not turn out to be quite as secure as people think — at least if a recent demonstration at the hacker-centric Chaos Communication Congress is to be believed.

This week, a small team of security researchers showcased how the latest vein-reading security systems are no match for something as basic as a fake wax hand containing printed vein details.

“We showed how to use a modified DLSR [camera] to capture hand vein patterns from a distance of around 5 meters,” security researcher Jan Krissler, aka Starbug, told Digital Trends. “After adjusting the contrast, we then printed the vein patterns with a standard laser printer and covered the print with a layer of bee wax to simulate human tissue. With those dummies, we were able to fool the latest systems of both major vendors of vein recognition systems, Fujitsu and Hitachi.”

As exploits go, it’s pretty ingenious — but also alarmingly straightforward. It’s not quite as easy as fooling a facial-recognition system by holding up a photograph of the person, but it’s not too far off. (Although actually getting a good photo of someone’s hand with their veins visible might be a little tough.) According to Krissler, until now the accepted wisdom was that veins are buried inside the body and were thought to be difficult to capture. Just as facial recognition has had to improve, however, it seems that vein authentication must also ramp up its efforts.

“There are ways to measure blood flow that would detect our dummy,” Krissler continued. Even then he thinks that there would be ways to fool the technology, though. It appears that there is more that needs to be done before we can rely on reading veins as a foolproof security system.

Hey, maybe one of these other oddball biometric technologies will have better luck.

Emerging Tech

With CabinSense, cars will soon know who’s riding in them and respond accordingly

What if your car could know who's riding in it and customize the entertainment and safety options accordingly? That’s what's promised by the new CabinSense in-car Occupancy Monitoring System.
Home Theater

Bose’s technology patents could save an earbud’s battery life

Possibly taking a cue from Apple's popular AirPods, Bose filed a patent application for earbud IR technology that could save battery life, improve sound quality, and possibly help people locate lost earbuds.
Mobile

New rumors suggest the iPhone 2019 will continue to use Lightning over USB-C

While it's not been long since the last iPhones launched, rumors for the next iPhone are already surfacing. Apple's 2019 flagship could include a variety of upgrades ranging from a new design to enhanced features.
Cars

Will Apple sell its Touch ID and Face ID technology to automakers?

Recent patent filings suggest Apple wants its Touch ID and Face ID technologies to spread across the automotive industry. The company outlined how motorists could use their finger or their face to unlock their car.
Mobile

These 13 gadgets walk a fine line between ingenious and insane

The annual avalanche of devices and gadgets is astounding, but how many will succeed? A few are destined to spark new trends, while the majority fade deservedly into obscurity. We look at some gadgets on the border of brilliant and bonkers.
Emerging Tech

A.I.-powered website creates freakishly lifelike faces of people who don’t exist

No, this isn't a picture of a missing person. It's a face generated by a new artificial intelligence on the website ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com. Here's how the impressive A.I. works.
Emerging Tech

Global Good wants to rid the world of deadly diseases with lasers and A.I.

Global Good, a collaboration between Intellectual Ventures and Bill Gates, aims to eradicate diseases that kill children in developing nations. It tackles difficult problems with high-tech prototypes.
Emerging Tech

China’s mind-controlled cyborg rats are proof we live in a cyberpunk dystopia

Neuroscience researchers from Zhejiang University, China, have created a method that allows humans to control the movements of rats using a technology called a brain-brain interface.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s MAVEN orbiter has a new job as a communication relay for Mars 2020

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) orbiter has been collecting atmospheric readings but now is taking on a new job as a data relay satellite for the Mars 2020 mission that launches next year.
Emerging Tech

Underground volcanoes could explain possible liquid water on Mars

Last year scientists discovered there could be liquid water on Mars. Now a research team argues that for there to be liquid water, there must be an underground source of heat -- and they believe underground volcanoes could be responsible.
Emerging Tech

The 10 most expensive drones that you (a civilian) can buy

OK, these drones may be a bit beyond your budget: Check out the most expensive drones in the world, from industrial giants to highest-end filming tools.
Emerging Tech

Of all the vape pens in the world, these 5 are the best

Vaping concentrates has become significantly more popular, especially among those that use cannabis for medicinal purposes. But don’t use just any vape pen: we found these five devices to be our favorites in 2018.
Computing

The HoloLens 2 will be announced at MWC. Here's what we know about it so far

The HoloLens 2 is ripe for an announcement. Here's what Microsoft has revealed so far, what's likely in store for the next generation HoloLens, and everything that we know about this mixed reality headset.
Emerging Tech

A river of stars one billion years old flows across the southern sky

Astronomers have identified a river of stars flowing across our galaxy and covering most of the southern sky. The estimated 4000 stars that comprise the stream were born together and have been moving together for the last one billion years.