Fingerprints: Easier to Steal Than Passwords (And Passwords Are Pretty Damn Easy to Steal)


To combat the plethora of cyber-security issues introduced with the progression of the digital age, cellphone manufacturers and businesses are transitioning from the use of traditional passwords to fingerprint-scanning technology, which is capable of creating unique log-ins that are supposedly safer than our previous methods.

But the notion that fingerprint technology is a more secure bet is turning out to be a misconception. Indeed, researchers are beginning to crack the code behind what makes a fingerprint so individualized and are learning quick hacks to break into just about anybody's cellphones.

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The Verge's Russel Brandom reported how he watched one person use a homemade hack involving a dental mold and just enough clay to fit the size of the home button on both an iPhone 6 and a Galaxy S6 Edge, describing the process to be just a level above "steaming open a letter" in difficulty.

While the above method requires the cellphone owner to be present, "It's also one of the more primitive ways to bypass a fingerprint scanner," Brandom wrote. "I've seen researchers at CITER pull off a similar trick with a 3-D printed mold, developed from a stored image rather than a real finger." 

He also noted a security researcher had applied that hack to a high-resolution photograph of Germany's defense minister and was able to build a functional model of the government official's fingerprint. 

It's disconcerting, to say the least, that the technology being increasingly relied upon for security is already facing an explosion of cybersecurity issues. But the real scare lies in the fact that we may only be seeing the tip of the iceberg.