Sunday, 6 April 2008

I feel safer already

Jacqui Smith raised an interesting point in her speech at Demos last month.

"Because your name will be linked by your fingerprints to a unique entry on the National Identity Register," she said, "you will have much greater protection from identity theft. No-one will be able to impersonate you, like they can now, just by finding our your name and address and personal details."

And she's probably right: no-one will be able to impersonate you like they can now.

No, they'll find new ways of doing that.

Take the good people of The Chaos Computer Club. In protest at proposed laws to add fingerprints to German passports, the 'hacker club' has published what it says is the fingerprint of Wolfgang Schauble, Germany's interior minister.

The Register explains:

In the most recent issue of Die Datenschleuder, the Chaos Computer Club printed the image on a plastic foil that leaves fingerprints when it is pressed against biometric readers.

No-one from the Germany-based group has been able to test the foil to see if it can fool a computer into believing it came from Schauble. But the technique has been shown to work with a variety of other people's prints on almost two-dozen readers, according to a colleague of the hacker who pulled off the demonstration.

The whole research has always been inspired by showing how insecure biometrics are, especially a biometric that you leave all over the place," said Karsten Nohl, a colleague of the researcher who engineered the hack. "It's basically like leaving the password to your computer everywhere you go without you being able to control it anymore."

The print is included in more than 4,000 copies of the latest issue of the magazine, which is published by the CCC. The image is printed two ways: one using traditional ink on paper, and the other on a film of flexible rubber that contains partially dried glue. The latter medium can be covertly affixed to a person's finger and used to leave an individual's prints on doors, telephones or biometric readers.

I feel safer already.

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