You’re fingered for it

[Dave Birch] There’s no doubt that consumers aren’t as adverse to the use of fingerprints for applications such as retail payments as security experts worry that they might be. In fact


Six-in-10 consumers worldwide believe they will be able to pay for purchases using fingerprints by 2015, according to the report New Future In Store from TNS.

[From Consumers give thumbs up to biometric payment – Talking Retail]

Not that I think that we should pay much attention to what the public think about anything (after all, a good portion of them think that Sherlock Holmes ws a real person) but I’m sure they are right about biometrics, but wrong about fingerprints. One obvious problem that I can foresee is that retail POS will become (as in the case of PINs) a place to steal cardholder verification details. Then consumer’s fingerprints might end up in all sorts of strange places. I wonder if the German japesters the Chaos Computer Club haven’t done us all a favour by inventing a splendid new sport based on biometrics. You’ll recall that they


published digital copies of the German Home Secretary Wolfgang Schäuble’s fingerprints in their magazine. This was done in protest over the increased use of biometric data, for example in biometric passports and airport immigration. Apparently they lifted the original fingerprint from a glass that the Secretary used during a conference. Over 4,000 copies of the magazine were published, which also included a thin plastic film which could be stuck onto one’s finger in order to provide a false biometric reading, and pretend to be Herr Schäuble.

[From Chaos Computer Club Publishes Fingerprints of German Home Secretary – Securethoughts]

In practice, I’m sure that the first use of this tactic for criminal purposes won’t be to impersonate an important official. What on Earth could you gain access to with the Home Secretary’s fingerprint? I didn’t notice biometric fingerprint readers at the door of no.10 the last (and, in fact, only) time I went there. No, it will be to get someone random person’s fingerprint and put it at the scene of a crime to set a false trail or start a cover up or something similar. If I were going to murder someone, I’d wear gloves and leave your fingerprint at the scene of the crime.

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