Skip to comments.Defeat of fingerprint scanner with tape raises questions about Real ID
Posted on 01/31/2009 7:34:07 AM PST by marktwain
The folks at Mythbusters can say "I told you so" now that Japanese authorities have found a 51-year old woman slipping in and out of the country by using a piece of tape to defeat fingerprint scanners. The seemingly simple exploit raises questions about expensive border security systems -- and about the usefulness of the biometric data the federal government wants to incorporate into drivers licenses with its controversial Real ID scheme.
The unnamed South Korean bar hostess, whose real fingerprints were on file as that of an illegal alien, bypassed her listing in the database with tape supplied by a black market contact named "Mr. Lee." She affixed the tape to her index fingers and let the $45 million security system instantly check her fake prints against a listing of undesirables. Having apparently been given her money's worth by Mr. Lee, she passed into Japan without a hiccup.
The woman was arrested in South Korea after attempting to purchase a fake passport.
U.S. authorities use a similar fingerprint identification system at the border, raising questions about the level of security provided by the high-tech devices. The machines haven't been useless -- they've actually stopped thousand of criminals. The scanners seem to act as an effective barrier to miscreants lacking the sophistication of South Korean bar hostesses, and therefore willing to submit to fingerprinting without taking precautions.
But since workarounds for the scanners are now available on the black market, the cost and false sense of security provided by the technology has to be weighed against the ease with which it can be bypassed.
The same can be said of the controversy-ridden Real ID system, a federally driven scheme for standardizing state-issed drivers licenses and incorporating biometric data.. The plan would effectively convert licenses into national ID cards and has been vigorously opposed by privacy advocates. Many state governments have denounced the plan and several have flat-out refused to comply.
The federal government argues that incorporating biometric data in drivers licenses is necessary for "enhancing national security" and stopping terrorists, but the easy defeat of fingerprint scanners suggests that the Real ID scheme may not be just a threat to privacy, but also an expensive and contentious waste of time.
Not long ago, the popular television show Mythbusters tried several methods of defeating fingerprint scanners and found several relatively simple techniques that worked -- including a photocopy of a fingerprint. You can see them for yourself below.
I wonder if Mr. Lee is a fan of the show.
But don't blame Mythbusters. If there's a buck -- or a yen -- to be made by defeating security, somebody is going to step up and cash in on a little creativity.
Want more information? Here's a paper (PDF) from the Helsinki University of Technology on defeating fingerprint scanners.
Amazing. The hi-tech 'solutions' people get outfoxed by low tech responses.
Gee, I guess we will all have to settle for the mark of the beast on our foreheads or on our right hands. Revelations 14:9,10
Last summer I was in the process of being oked to become a substitute teacher. The process includes a background check and they used a fingerprint scanner. It took quite a few attempts for the scanner to 'read' my prints! I'd been given a list of things to do and not do in the days leading up to the fingerprinting (moisturize and no heavy/abrasive cleaners), which I followed. They finally took, yet I began wondering if my skin care routine, which is ALL about reducing wrinkles, affected the ridges in my fingerprints??
If govt security is using the same kind of scanners the public school system is...then we're in big trouble. lol
Maybe they should scan every finger, just a thought.
“Amazing. The hi-tech ‘solutions’ people get outfoxed by low tech responses. “
The fingerprint scanner at the entrance to the high-security area where I work hasn’t worked worth a damn for years. I’ve been trapped inside and couldn’t get out, outside and couldn’t get in and secured in the mantrap for 30 minutes trying to convince our SWAT team wannabes that I’m not a Chinese spy wearing a cleverly crafted rubber mask.
The really dumb thing is (and I’ve mentioned this to security before) is that I could bypass the entire system in about five minutes by other means. They really don’t want to hear it because it would mean spending money to do it right.
And the techie crowd will tell you every time that it’s foolproof and will never be defeated.
Maybe they should raise their standards to somewhere above “Foolproof”. LOL
An excellent "how to" for the more adventurous among us.
Uhhh, you must be confusing the tech guys with the marketing guys at the tech companies.
The officers need to visually inspect the person’s fingers before they put them on the scanner. Easy solution.
I went through U.S. customs a few weeks ago and they made people put their thumb and then all four fingers on the scanner.
Well, actually, not to take away from "Mythbusters'" glory, but some of the best early work done on inexpensive defeat of such fingerprint devices was done at Yokohoma University; for instance, there is the classic paper by Matsumoto et al archived at Impact of Artificial "Gummy" Fingers on Fingerprint Systems, which even includes in its appendices recipes for creating "gummy fingers."
The irony here is that the same people that give you a hard time in security will probably turn right around and hire a chinese spy to fix the damn thing and escort the spy into your work area to do it.
Maybe they should use the ARGOS holographic? system, it’s either your hand (and weight) or it’s not.
Yup. Unlike you, they can acquire guns without waiting periods or background checks.
It's been my contention that many bad ideas will slip their camel noses under the tent in the form of sex-offender laws. And already mandatory ex-post-facto RFID chipping is being considered. Not a bad thing, you say? In order for post-conviction application to stand, the courts will rule that mandated chipping is not a violation of any rights, which opens the door for a mandate that everyone be chipped.
Mark of the Beast indeed, and we will do it to ourselves.
“The irony here is that the same people that give you a hard time in security will probably turn right around and hire a chinese spy to fix the damn thing and escort the spy into your work area to do it.”
They’ve caught several spies over the years that they hired directly out of college. They were spying for the Chinese and these people were “diversity hires”. Now they’ve outsourced so much it no longer matters I guess.
If the truth gets out the fingerprints are duplicatable though this could be great.