Like we said: BOLT CUTTERS!

October 19th, 2006

The rest of the world slowly catches up with BLOGDIAL:

By Mark Ballard
18th October 2006

The public fears losing their fingers to ruthless biometric ID thieves in the fingerprint-controlled future, apparently. Or at least, so says Frost & Sullivan analyst Sapna Capoor, who argued unconvincingly that “A dead finger is no good to a thief.”

If you have a fingerprint scanner protecting your family jewels, your data might be safe, but what about your fingers?

So, it’s all getting out of hand? Then on the other… there are recorded instances of people having their fingers chopped off, and the biometric industry takes the issue seriously.

For example, there were the Malaysian crooks who nabbed a man’s fingers in order to operate the biometric security on the S-class Mercedes they stole from him.

Nevertheless, biometric firms are doing what they can to detect whether a fingerprint being scanned is alive or not, said Jean Francois Mainguet, chief scientist of fingerchip biometrics at Atmel-France, and inventor of the sweeping technique for direct silicon fingerprint scanning (he was awarded his patent on 9/11, as it happens).

Speaking at Biometrics 2006 in London, Mainguet said it wasn’t yet possible to detect “liveliness”, and even when it was, this would guarantee security no more than a regular biometric.

“Absolute security doesn’t exist,” he said. If you could detect liveliness, you wouldn’t be able to tell if someone was accessing some system or authorising some payment under duress or not.

Security causes an escalation of causes and reactions just like the arms race. Want to cheat the banking system? Forge an ID. Fingerprint scanner making it tricky? Chop someone’s finger off. Live fingerprint scanner? Hold someone’s family at gun point.

The techniques being explored for live scanners include inducing involuntary responses via an electric charge to cause a spasm in skin pressed against the glass. Or there’s the use of light fluctuations to induce involuntary responses from the user of an iris scanner.

They can all be faked, said Mainguet. The electrical response, for example is as easy as making a frog’s leg twitch if you have chopped carefully.

There is a solution, he said, which is to use a variety of biometrics to identify someone. Biometrics? You just can’t get enough of them. At some shows, anyway.


The Register

We made this exact point before. Like we have been saying if you do not register in the biometric net (ID Card, NIR), or in this case, buy a car, or a lock, or a safe that uses your thumbprint as the key, you will not have to worry about the bolt cutters removing your thumb(s) or the cheese slicer removing the top four millimeters of your thumb skin.

Now, if they get out the cheese slicer, and slice off your prints, when they stick them onto their own fingers, they will seem to be alive, because the criminals finger is providing the 37° warmth that these ‘is she alive’ scanners will be looking for. For example. Either way, having a biometric door-lock on your house tells the criminal that he has to come properly equipped, just as he does when he sees a particular type of lock that he knows how to pick. It also tells him that he can target your wife, your children and your housekeeper.

Its pretty obvious really.

I had the opportunity to look at Virgin’s ‘self service’ checkin at Heathrow. To use this ‘service’ you put your machine readable passport into a machine, and your checkin pass is printed out for you.

What’s wrong with this picture? That instead of using your credit card or some other card to issue with your ticket, they use a state issued document whose purpose is to get you past immigration, and nothing else. There is no reason whatsoever for them to use your passport for this, and since you and your passport and your ticket will be examined by several people on your way to the cattle truck aircraft, this check is redundant. A machine should never be used to check your ‘identity’ or validity. Of course, people were lining up to take advantage of the ‘convenience’ of this ‘service’, blithely sticking their passports into this machine without any indication of what this machine was doing with their data. Of course, if the RFID passports gain wide acceptance, you wont even have to touch the machine….and thats the machine that you know about.

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