Think Fingerprint Scanners are Safe – Think Again

Many of us rely on using our fingerprints to unlock our phones and pay for shopping.

But smartphone fingerprint scanners may not be secure as we think.

Researchers have developed a series of ‘MasterPrints’ made from the common features of human finger markings which they say can unlock any smartphone.

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Sample fingerprints that researchers compared against an artificial MasterPrint. Solid black squares around a print show when the MasterPrint 'matched' with a real fingerprint
Sample fingerprints that researchers compared against an artificial MasterPrint. Solid black squares around a print show when the MasterPrint ‘matched’ with a real fingerprint

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The Old Brazilian Fake Finger Scam

Brazilian doctor used ‘fake fingers’ made of silicone to sign in absent colleagues in ‘ghost worker’ scam

 

A Brazilian hospital doctor used ‘fake  fingers’ made of silicone to record the attendance of fellow medics when they  were not at work.

Officers seized six ‘fingers’ from doctor Thauane Nunes Ferreira, 29, when they arrested her on Sunday following a  tip-off.

The ensuing scandal has led to investigations  in Ferraz de Vasconcelos, near Sao Paulo, into the number of ‘ghost workers’ in the town.

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Digital deception: Nunes Ferreira used 'fake fingers' made of silicon to sign in absent colleagues at work
Nunes Ferreira used these ‘fake  fingers’ made of silicon to sign in absent colleagues at work
The mayor Acir Fillo said as many as 300 civil servants claimed their salary without going to work, according to Brazilian website G1.He told a news conference: ‘We have an army of ghosts.’He added: ‘This case is a huge disappointment. Let’s put cameras to monitor the clocks to not let that happen again.’

Mr Fillo said they believe ‘ghost workers’  around found in public offices including health, security and education.

Thauane Nunes Ferreira was arrested after signing colleagues into work at a hospita
Thauane Nunes Ferreira was arrested after signing  colleagues into work at a hospital when they were not there by tricking a  biometric scanner using ‘fake fingers’ made of silicone (file picture)

Ferreira, who had been under surveillance, confessed to falsifying a public document after she was caught using the fingers to fool the biometric machine into recording colleague’s attendance.

Police arrested the doctor on Sunday following an anonymous tip-off
Police arrested the doctor on Sunday following an  anonymous tip-off

Medics at the Office of Mobile Emergency Care  (Samu) have to sign in using their hands to record their attendance.

Eleven doctors and 20 nurses are believed to  be involved in the scam, reported The Telegraph.

Ferreira told police that signing in absent colleagues was a condition of her employment and that the system was organized  by Samu coordinator Jorge Cury.

However he told the G1 website that he had been called by the health secretary and had to speak to police.

He said: ‘This is absurd! I’ve been a city official for 25 years and I’ve never known of this happening.’

The Brazilian website reported that five doctors suspended after the arrest are still receiving their wages until an inquiry has concluded.

The number of doctors at the hospital has now dropped from 15 to 10, meaning that shifts that used to have two doctors now have just one.

Brazil’s Health Ministry has started an audit of Samu and staff are working their way through documents to discover who was  involved in the scam and how it worked.

It is not yet clear whether the doctor used specific finger prints to trick the machine or how they were made.

Attribution: Becky Evans, Daily Mail