Flashing the Peace Sign Can Get Your Identity Stolen

So say Japanese researchers
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2017 4:20 PM CST
Researchers Warn Fingerprints Can Be Stolen From Selfies
Two women helpfully provide would-be thieves with their fingerprints.   (Getty Images/martin-dm)

Thanks to improvements in technology, the following popular hand gestures are no longer advised in photos: waving, giving the thumbs up, and flashing the peace sign. Raising the double bird or a fist remain excellent options. Researchers at the National Institute of Informatics in Japan say that smartphone cameras are now so good it's possible to steal someone's fingerprints from a photo taken up to 10 feet away, AFP reports. "Just by casually making a peace sign in front of a camera, fingerprints can become widely available," researcher Isao Echizen tells a Japanese newspaper. According to CNET, Echizen specifically warns about the peace sign because of its ubiquity in Japan and because it makes it easy to match fingers with faces.

Echizen says anyone can now steal fingerprints from a photo posted to social media—no high-tech setup necessary—as long as the fingers are well-lit and in focus. He warns that the stealing of fingerprints is potentially more dangerous than having a password hacked because passwords, unlike fingerprints, can be changed, International Business Times reports. The BBC notes fingerprints are increasingly being used for access to everything from phones to bank accounts, not to mention secure buildings. Not coincidentally, the National Institute of Informatics has developed a clear coating that can be attached to fingers to obscure prints. (Napping parents are also in danger of having their fingerprints stolen ... by their kids.)

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