People all over the world use fingerprints to log into everything from smartphones to security systems.
But a German hacker named Jan proved that fingerprints are not that secure.
You see, he had a target: Germany’s defense minister.
He didn’t want to harm her, instead, he wanted to steal her fingerprints.
He used software along with up-close photographs of the defense minister’s hands to do it.
In fact, one photo was a picture that had been handed out as part of a press release.
Jan used the photos of the defense minister to reverse engineer her fingerprint.
“After this talk, politicians will presumably wear gloves when talking in public,” Jan said.
Jan’s hack demonstrated it was possible to unlock a person’s phone by using a stolen fingerprint.
Which means, security features such as fingerprints aren’t as secure as people think.
So, here are a few things you must know if you use your fingerprint as a method to log into your accounts.
Who saved your fingerprint?:
One of the most common ways a fingerprint gets stolen is if it’s stored in a database, and the database gets hacked.
Maybe you remember the OPM hack in 2015…
Over 20 million federal government employees had their information compromised.
But what many people don’t know is that 5.5 million victims also had their fingerprints stolen in the hack.
So, before using your fingerprint to log in or access something, be sure to find out how the fingerprint image is stored.
For example, Apple says that fingerprints are not stored by the company on any servers or in the cloud.
The fingerprint is only on the device itself. In other words, there is no way for your fingerprint to be compromised by Apple unless the person has access to your device.
Many password manager apps or software use a fingerprint to identify the user. The concern is that your fingerprint is used to access the passwords you have stored in the manager.
The thing is, even the best password manager apps have been hacked. So, while these companies do a decent job of protecting your data, they are not immune from hacking.
Even though you trust password managers with a lot of data you might not want to trust them with your fingerprint. You should use other methods of authentication such as a password and text message.
These days, many electronics (such as tablets, door access, etc.) have touchscreens.
The problem is that touchscreens easily smudge and can leave clear fingerprints.
And criminals can use the leftover remnants from a previous fingerprint scan to recreate the fingerprint.
There have been cases where hackers used reflective tape over a fingerprint scanner to trick the scanner into seeing the already-used fingerprint.
This is why it’s a good idea to regularly wipe down and clean touchscreen devices.
Now, as you can see, fingerprints are not as secure as we would like to think.
So, if you use biometrics to log into an account, use it in addition to another method.
For example, use both a fingerprint, and a strong password along with two-factor authentication to really secure your accounts.
Protecting your information online is a top priority in today’s tech-laden world, and beefing up your security is a necessity.