Tag Archives | Biometrics

The Police And Fingerprint-Based Security

fingerprintThe Chaos Computer Club on why authorities are in love with biometrically unlockable devices:

“It is plain stupid to use something that you can’t change and that you leave everywhere every day as a security token”, said Frank Rieger, spokesperson of the CCC. “The public should no longer be fooled by the biometrics industry with false security claims. Biometrics is fundamentally a technology designed for oppression and control, not for securing everyday device access.” Fingerprint biometrics in passports has been introduced in many countries despite the fact that no security gain can be shown.

iPhone users should avoid protecting sensitive data with their precious biometric fingerprint not only because it can be easily faked, as demonstrated by the CCC team. You can easily be forced to unlock your phone against your will when being arrested. Forcing you to give up your passcode is much harder under most jurisdictions than just casually swiping your phone over your handcuffed hands.

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Senator Raises Concern That The FBI Could Access iPhone Fingerprint Data

fingerThose who find Apple’s new fingerprint reader disturbing apparently include members of Congress. Ars Technica reports:

On Thursday, the Minnesota senator Al Franken, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, published a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

“Passwords are secret and dynamic; fingerprints are public and permanent,” wrote Sen. Franken. “If someone hacks your password, you can change it—as many times as you want. You can’t change your fingerprints. And you leave them on everything you touch; they are definitely not a secret. What’s more, a password doesn’t uniquely identify its owner—a fingerprint does.”

He also has specific questions for Cupertino:

Is it possible to convert locally stored fingerprint data into a digital or visual format that can be used by third parties?

Is it possible to extract and obtain fingerprint data from an iPhone? If so, can this be done remotely, or with physical access to the device?…

Under American intelligence law, the FBI can seek an order requiring the production of “any tangible thing (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items)” if they are deemed relevant to certain foreign intelligence investigations.

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Apple’s Fingerprint Authentication For The iPhone Is Here

fingerThe iPhone 5S, going on sale this month, unveils Apple’s plan to build a fingerprint database, err, to feature fingerprint security. Now when someone steals your phone, they will cut off your thumb as well. Via ZDNet:

Apple has unveiled its smartphone’s latest weapon: a fingerprint reader it’s calling Touch ID.

With its move, Apple could end up making the technology commonplace, as rivals might feel compelled to follow suit. It could be only a matter of time before passwords and passcodes are relegated to yesteryear.

In making the iPhone 5S one of the first mainstream smartphones in the Western market to include hardware security, Apple has begun to reinvent the notion of device and online identity.

Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller said at the Tuesday event that the Touch ID fingerprint scanner will be used to access a user’s device quicker, as well as preventing unauthorized users from accessing a device’s data.

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Americans Take to Streets to Demand They Be Indexed in National Biometric Database.

photo courtesy US Social Forum

Thousands of Americans took to the streets on May 1 to demand Congress allow the Department of Homeland Security to establish a national photo database of all 330 million residents.

You didn’t hear? WIRED reports:

Buried in the more than 800 pages of the bipartisan [immigration] legislation is language mandating the creation of the innocuously-named “photo tool,” a massive federal database administered by the Department of Homeland Security and containing names, ages, Social Security numbers and photographs of everyone in the country with a driver’s license or other state-issued photo ID.

For now, the legislation allows the database to be used solely for employment purposes. But historically such limitations don’t last. The Social Security card, for example, was created to track your government retirement benefits. Now you need it to purchase health insurance.

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Brazilian Doctor Arrested For Using Silicone Fingers To Fool Fingerprint-Based Biometric Check-In

Our key-less and password-less future will hinge on being identified via our fingerprints, irises, and vocal tones. The problem is, someone else may have a copy of your finger. Via the BBC:

A Brazilian doctor faces charges of fraud after being caught on camera using silicone fingers to sign in for work for absent colleagues, police say.

Thaune Nunes Ferreira, 29, was arrested on Sunday for using prosthetic fingers to fool the biometric employee attendance device used at the hospital where she works near Sao Paulo. She is accused of covering up the absence of six colleagues. Her lawyer says she was forced into the fraud as she faced losing her job.

Police said she had six silicone fingers with her at the time of her arrest, three of which have already been identified as bearing the fingerprints of co-workers.

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It’s A Trap! Ron Paul Warns Of McCain Immigration Plan Surveillance Implications

For those who are still quite fond of their 4th Amendment rights, Ron Paul raised the alarm over on his official Facebook page earlier today that the Senate's current immigration reform package is a civil liberties nightmare. The former Congressman and presidential candidate warned that the proposed McCain/Schumer immigration "reform" plan, as it exists now, would usher in warrantless surveillance of US citizens using drones, a de facto mandatory national ID system barring those without it from working legally, increased federal database information on US citizens, and the further erosion of our core civil rights under the guise of keeping our economy "safe" from a mostly non-existent wave of illegal immigration. Scariest paragraph of Ron Paul's post: "Harper rightly notes that E-Verify is in fact a national ID card, writing last week that, 'the system must biometrically identify everyone who works—you, me, and every working American you know. There is no way to do internal enforcement of immigration law without a biometric national identity system.'" Minority Report could be closer than we think. Open those eyes nice and wide for your iris scan, citizen!
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Biometric Identity Verification Fails In Presidential Election – Loser Claims Vote Fraud

John Dramani Mahama

The twist to this increasingly common headline is that it doesn’t refer to the United States, but to Ghana, perhaps the most democratic of African nations when it comes to elections. Story from AP via the Houston Chronicle:

ACCRA, Ghana (AP) — President John Dramani Mahama was declared the winner Sunday of Ghana’s recent presidential election, according to provisional results, despite widespread technical glitches with the machines used to identify voters, and over the protest of the country’s opposition, which alleges vote-rigging.

Armored tanks surrounded Ghana’s electoral commission and police barricaded the road around the electoral offices as the election body’s chairman Kwadwo Afari-Gyan announced that Mahama had polled 5.5 million votes, or 50.7 percent.

Opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo, who lost the 2008 election by less than 1 percent, came in second with 5.2 million votes, or 47.7 percent, Afari-Gyan said. Voter turnout was high, with more than 80 percent of the roughly 14 million registered voters casting ballots in Friday’s presidential and parliamentary election.

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Storing Millions Of People’s Voices In A Voice-Recognition Database

Slate on software, already being sold to governments and corporations, making it possible to store and identify the unique sound of everyone’s speech. The obvious question is, can it be thwarted by pitch shifting or other modification?

Intercepting thousands of phone calls is easy for government agencies. But quickly analyzing the calls and identifying the callers can prove a difficult task. Now one company believes it has solved the problem—with a countrywide biometric database designed to store millions of people’s “voice-prints.”

Russia’s Speech Technology Center, which operates under the name SpeechPro in the United States, has invented what it calls “VoiceGrid Nation,” a system that uses advanced algorithms to match identities to voices. The idea is that it enables authorities to build up a huge database containing up to several million voices—of known criminals, persons of interest, or people on a watch list.

Alexey Khitrov, SpeechPro’s president, told me the company is working with a number of agencies in the United States at a state and federal level.

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Raj Konai’s Hand: The First Biometric Identity?

e43f4780a2fc991162bdbf3b2661bdfee1faac7fFrom an exhibition by Raqs Media Collective at London's Frith Street Gallery, which puts forth that modern biometric identification was invented by a British colonial official in 1858:
Untold Intimacy of Digits is an facsimile of the handprint of a Bengal Peasant, Raj Konai. The handprint was taken under the orders of William Herschel – scientist, statistician and at the time a revenue official with the Bengal government. It is one of the earliest impressions of the human body taken by a person in power with the explicit purpose of using the trace to identify and verify a human subject. It was taken in lieu of a signature, to affix the identity of Konai to a document. It was felt, at the time, that subaltern subjects were way too slippery when it came to the presentation of their identities to the authorities.
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