Identity Theft By Peace Sign Selfies? Possible (But Not Likely)

Can that peace sign you’re holding up in selfies be used to steal your identity?

It’s a sensational claim that has made international headlines after a Japanese newspaper, the Shankei Shimbun, first reported on a biometric technology being developed by National Institute of Informatics researcher Isao Echizen.

The research was conducted as an effort to better protect biometric information as its use as a security measure expands to unlock smartphones, tablets and personal computers.

Echizen and his team found that they could copy fingerprints off photos taken from nine feet away, provided they had strong lighting and were taken with fingerprints in focus.

The team are in the process of developing a special transparent film, made with titanium oxide, that sticks onto fingers to mask prints but does not prevent fingerprints from being used as security measures, according to AFP.

Echizen pointed out to a local TV station that copying an individual’s fingerprints is easily possible through non-advanced technology.

Hackers would need both a rendering of a set of fingerprints, as well as the personal device itself, to be successful — the idea that showing your fingers to a camera in close range may be dangerous is not a new one.

In 2014, hackers demonstrated the method by taking a photo of German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen from nine feet away during a press conference, using an image-processing app to recreate her print, creating a 3D mold and unlocking a phone with the creation.