Short Bytes: An MSU professor Anil Jain has been approached by the law enforcement officers for the creation of 3D-printed fingerprint moulds of the victim of a murder case. The finger dummies will be used to unlock the smartphone of the victim for any traces of the murderer.
A bullseye shot, police officers have become quite impressive in their investigation processes. This idea could have saved many dollars for the FBI. I am talking about the iPhone-unlock fight between Apple and FBI in which Apple was backed by the tech industry. Apple refused to unlock the phone, given the reason, it would put millions of other iPhones’ privacy at stake. FBI did manage to crack the iPhone without Apple’s help.
Originally reported by Rose Eveleth for Fusion, the details of the case were not disclosed by Jain as the investigation is currently in progress. However, Jain’s PhD student Sunpreet Arora has told Eveleth that he has created the finger moulds of all the fingers. “We don’t know which finger the suspect used,” Arora said. “We think it’s going to be the thumb or index finger—that’s what most people use—but we have all ten.”
The fingerprint dummies will be used to unlock the phone. But there is a twist, smartphones normally use capacitive type sensors to detect the presence of a real finger using the charge present in the fingers. This provides added security because placing the finger dummy alone won’t unlock the phone.
To overcome this situation, Arora has worked out a method which involves coating the finger replica with a thin metallic layer. This is not a foolproof solution but Arora is working to get things in the right direction.
This case has given us a very different point of view, why to waste resources on hacking a phone when you can just copy the fingerprints and 3D print their lifelike models. Although, it is not as easy as it sounds but an extra solution is always better.
However, an added difficulty to the investigation process is that most modern smartphones have an additional passcode security if the user doesn’t unlock the devices for a specified amount of time.
The biggest irony of the whole story is that Jain, who is working for enhancement in the level of security provided by various biometric identifiers like fingerprint recognition devices, face detection software, etc., has been approached to make the fingerprint detection process simpler.
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