Skip to main content

Hacker replicate politician’s fingerprint to warn of biometric security dangers

iphone fingerprint unlocking texas 5s touchid
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Friendly hackers have already shown us just how vulnerable biometric security measures like fingerprint sensors are to manipulation. Now, another has found a way to copy people’s fingerprints, using nothing but close up photos of their hands.

At the 31st annual Chaos Computer Club convention in Hamburg, Germany, Jan Krissler, aka Starbug, demonstrated how he was able to replicate the fingerprint of German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen with nothing more than photos of her hands and a software called VeriFinger. He used several photos taken three meters away from where Von der Leyen was standing during a public press conference to recreate her fingerprint. The photos were taken from several different angles with a 200er-Objektiv lens on a standard camera.

He then ran the images through VeriFnger’s software to form Von der Leyen’s full fingerprint. Krissler says other image-processing software can also be used, and that a camera with a sharp lens may not be necessary, if your phone has a good enough camera. While the print may not be 100 percent accurate, Krissler claims that it can be used to fool Touch ID on any iPhone as well as other devices with fingerprint sensors.

Of course, to get to that point, the hacker had to go through a few more steps to actually make the fingerprint physical. First, he inverted the colors of the photographed print, making the ridges of the fingerprint white and the grooves black. Then, he printed the image in black ink on standard paper. The ink leaves behind just enough texture for Krissler to make a 3D fingerprint. Krissler’s last step involves coating the fingerprint with glue or plaster to create a perfect mold of the print. The final mold can then be used to unlock the person’s iPhone with Touch ID or any other biometric-secured device.

Although Krissler’s process may sound complicated and time-intensive, malicious hackers could potentially exploit high-profile targets with the technique. The hacker even suggested that politicians wear gloves in the future to protect their fingerprints. Meanwhile, the average iPhone user likely has nothing to fear when it comes to Touch ID’s security.

Editors' Recommendations

Malarie Gokey
Former Digital Trends Contributor
As DT's Mobile Editor, Malarie runs the Mobile and Wearables sections, which cover smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and…
How to use ChatGPT on your iPhone and Android phone
The ChatGPT website on an iPhone.

While it may not quite be an all-knowing, all-seeing companion, AI has advanced in leaps and bounds in the last few years. AI chatbots have recently come into the spotlight, thanks largely to the emergence of ChatGPT -- a chatbot from OpenAI, the creators of the incredible DALL-E 2 AI image generator.

Read more
Your iPhone just got a first-of-its-kind security update
Deep Purple iPhone 14 Pro held in hand with a wooden gate in the background

Smartphone users should be completely accustomed to getting regular security updates to make sure that their data is protected. Now, Apple is simplifying things by introducing a new way to quickly update iPhone security without needing to push a full-on iOS update.

Apple has been running beta tests of its Rapid Security Responses (RSR) feature that's meant to make security patches easier. As of May 1, RSR has launched for all Apple device owners.

Read more
I found a phone that fixes the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s biggest flaw
Vivo X90 Pro back.

The comfort of holding a smartphone is underrated, especially when you consider that most of us hold our phones for at least a quarter of the day. And, unfortunately, it seems like the comfortable form factor of a big phone is the least thought-out feature.

Take any flagship phone with a 6.5-inch+ screen size, for instance. The iPhone 14 Pro Max, Galaxy S23 Ultra, or Xiaomi 13 Pro all have one thing in common: they feature top-notch cameras but aren’t very comfortable to hold, either due to the poor flat edge design or weight distribution. Thankfully, one new smartphone — the Vivo X90 Pro — solves this problem.
A design Apple wishes it could copy

Read more