Imagine building a 3-D replica of human hand with all five fingerprints and then unlocking a vault. Seems more like a MI6 plot doesn’t it? However, a professor working at the Michigan State University, Anil Jain, recently made the world aware of this concept and warned the companies about it. Jain was working with his team on calibration and testing of fingerprint scanners that are commonly used all over the world by police departments, banks, amusement parks, airport immigration counters, and others. There is no other way to test the accuracy of scanners without a life-like 3-D model.
For examining these scanners, they formed life-sized 3-D hand models that had all five fingerprints. The task was accomplished with the help of high-resolution 3-D printers that are capable of generating same valleys and ridges like a real finger. He quotes, “Like any optical device, fingerprint and hand scanners need to be calibrated, but currently there is no standard method for calibrating them. This is the first time a whole hand 3D target has been created to calibrate fingerprint scanners. As a byproduct of this research we realized a fake 3D hand, essentially a spoof, with someone’s fingerprints, could potentially allow a crook to steal the person’s identity to break into a vault, contaminate a crime scene or enter the country illegally. Now, another application of this technology will be to evaluate the spoof-resistance of commercial fingerprint scanners. We have highlighted a security loophole and the limitations of existing fingerprint scanning technology, now it’s up to the scanner manufacturers to design a scanner that is spoof-resistant. The burden is on them to tell whether the finger being placed on the scanner is real human skin or a printed material.”
The study conducted by this team mainly aims to develop and design standard models and processes for reliable and consistent evaluation of fingerprint readers, it is currently being sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The group’s leader for Security Technologies Group at NIST, Nicholas Paulter says, “We are very pleased with this research and how it is showing the uncertainties in the process and what it can mean for the accuracy of the readers. The FBI, CIA, military and manufacturers will all be interested in this project.”
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