Maybe you suspected this already, but researchers at MSU Computer Science just published a paper explaining just how easy it is to spoof a fingerprint scanner with a ink-jet printed scan of a finger.
We’re not talking about casting a new finger using superglue or anything, but rather using conductive ink you can literally print — on paper. A paper-printed-fingerprint that will unlock your smartphone. We’ve already told you fingerprints suck for security, but hopefully this drives the point home.
[Kai Cao] and [Anil K Jain] released this paper (Direct PDF link) outlining their technique. Using an existing scan of a fingerprint (which can be taken from your phone’s scanner), the image is mirrored, and then printed using a regular ink-jet printer, with all of its color cartridges replaced with AgIC4 silver conductive ink.
Now this ink and the associated paper to go with it is pretty pricey — you’ll be looking at close to $500 for those cartridges, but when it comes to spoofing someone’s identity, it’s certainly not enough to stop a would-be thief.