NII Researcher Warns That Fingerprints Can Be Stolen from Photos

A researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Informatics (NII) is warning that fingerprint recognition technology is now sophisticated enough that hackers could copy the patterns from photos of people giving the peace sign. In fact, Isao Echizen says he did just that, capturing fingerprint data from an individual standing only nine feet away.NII Researcher Warns That Fingerprints Can Be Stolen from Photos

The claim comes along with a few caveats. Interviewed for a TV program, Echizen said the practice requires “strong lighting,” and it isn’t clear what kind of digital camera was used in his experiment with respect to its quality compared to the cameras found on standard smartphones. Echizen has also been careful to note that the NII is working on a transparent film that could be attached to fingertips to obscure their prints.

It’s also worth pointing out that the industry has been moving quickly to more sophisticated fingerprint scanning solutions that resist the kind of presentation attacks enabled by stolen fingerprint images through the incorporation of liveness detection and multi-factor approaches to authentication. Still, Echizen’s research with the NII helps to highlight the importance of such efforts as fingerprint scanning technology continues to advance.

Sources:, CNET

January 11, 2017 – by Alex Perala