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

NASA is building an inflatable space robot named King Louie

NASA is funding an inflatable robot called King Louie which could travel to the stars in deflated form and then be blown up when and where required. Here is why that's so exciting.
Emerging Tech

How emotion-tracking A.I. will change computing as we know it

Affectiva is just one of the startups working to create emotion-tracking A.I. that can work out how you're feeling. Here's why this could change the face of computing as we know it.
Emerging Tech

New gunfire-detection system alerts police of shooters in seconds, not minutes

The Safe Zone Gunfire Detector is a fast gunfire-detection system that could help avert potential tragedies in public places like schools, malls, or anywhere a mass shooting might occur.
Computing

Microsoft reveals details of Surface Hub 2S, coming in June at $9,000

The Surface Hub 2 could be the most expensive whiteboard ever made, but it should be a powerful and capable one. With the ability to connect several of the 50-inch displays together, the picture at least, should be gorgeous.
Emerging Tech

Yale scientists restore cellular activity in a pig’s brain hours after its death

In what some may view as a porcine version of Frankenstein, Yale University scientists have restored circulation and cellular activity in a pig’s brain four hours after its death. The study is likely to be used to study brain function
Emerging Tech

Russia’s robot news anchor gives human TV presenters hope

Human news anchors anxious about robots taking their jobs will be feeling reassured this week after the appearance on Russian TV of a news-reading android that clearly needs a bit of work.
Emerging Tech

Meet the gene-edited bacteria that could make cannabis plants obsolete

Ever wanted to brew cannabis like you brew craft beer? At UC Berkeley, biologists have managed to engineer brewer’s yeast so that it produces the main cannabinoids found in marijuana.
Smart Home

I have seen the future, and it’s full of salad-making robots

Think that robots bussing tables, tossing salads and baking bread is a futuristic concept? It's actually not as far away as you might think. Robots took center stage at a food robotics summit in San Francisco this week, where they showed…
Emerging Tech

U.S. police are testing out Batman-style bola guns to catch criminals

U.S. police are taking a page out of Batman’s playbook with a new grappling hook gun, called the BolaWrap, which fires out a kevlar cord able to tie up assailants in the blink of an eye.
Emerging Tech

U.S., U.K. embrace autonomous robot spy subs that can stay at sea for months

Unmanned, autonomous robot spy submarines that are able to stay at sea for months at a time may be coming to both the United States and its ally across the pond, the U.K. Here's what we know so far.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Facebook data security, Ubisoft helps Notre Dame, and more

Join DT Live as we discuss Facebook security issues, Ubisoft's plan to help rebuild Notre Dame, and more. We are also joined by Emily Teteut of Snap the Gap, Jennifer Sendrow of New York Public Radio, and DJ and producer Zeke Thomas.
Emerging Tech

Planet-hunting satellite discovers its first Earth-sized planet

NASA's planet hunting satellite, TESS, has made a new discovery. Last month the satellite discovered its first exoplanet. And now it has achieved another milestone, locating its first Earth-sized planet and a larger sibling planet.
Emerging Tech

Resupply mission carries 7,600 pounds of scientific equipment to ISS

The Cygnus spacecraft has rendezvoused with the International Space Station as part of a months-long resupply mission. The craft will remain docked until July 23, while the crew take in the 7,600 pounds of research equipment it carried.
Emerging Tech

Astronomers surprised to find deep lakes of methane on Titan

In the two years since the Cassini probe burned up in Saturn's rings, data from its recordings is still being analyzed. The latest research has shown that Saturn's largest moon, Titan, hosts deep liquid lakes of methane on its surface.