Photo credit: Courtney Hobbs via Unsplas

Doing the ‘V-sign’ pose in photos can expose your fingerprint data to hackers

September 30th, 2019
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If you think smiling for the camera while doing the v-sign (victory sign or peace sign) won’t do you any harm, think again. With the advent of digital technology, even your most wholesome and cute pictures can be a hacker’s gateway to your personal data.

According to a Hongkong-based news company called Insktone, a Chinese security expert warned people to stop flicking the peace sign in photos. Zhang Wei, the vice-director of the Shanghai Information Security Trade Association, explained that crooks can easily create a copy of your fingerprint using a photo magnifying and artificial-enhanced technologies. 

Photo credit: Courtney Hobbs via Unsplash

Zhang elaborated on how thieves can copy your identity and steal a hefty amount of money from your online bank accounts. He said if the v-sign is taken within 5 feet, fingerprint patterns can easily be extracted and reconstructed. Once the patterns have successfully been extracted from photos, criminals will turn them into molds that are used to open a wide range of physical and digital entry points.  

But what if we can’t help doing the peace sign pose? 

Zhang suggested that in order to avoid exposing your data to hackers, the v-sign should only be photographed 10 feet away from the camera. 

However, Feng Jianjiang, a professor of fingerprint identification at Tsinghua University, didn’t comment on cybersecurity expert’s distance recommendation. In an interview with the South China Morning Post, she mentioned that “some people’s fingerprints could not be captured [at any distance] because of skin problems [for example].” 

She then went on to say that factors like distance, angle, focus, and lighting can contribute to the hacking scheme. “But the fingerprint images would be fairly clear if the distance, angle, focus, and lighting were all ideal,” Feng said. 

As we head towards a more advanced future, hackers are also doing their best to get initial access to our personal data. So before uploading anything on social media, check the quality of your photos first. 

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