True or False? Can Hackers Lift Your Fingerprints from a Selfie?

February 02, 2017

True or False?  Can Hackers Lift Your Fingerprints from a Selfie?


Hacker Hoax: Don’t Worry, Your Selfies Are in Good Hands

Internet hoaxes can take on a life of their own, circulating over social media until it’s hard to tell fact from fiction. Sometimes the rumor is born out of a genuine, innocent effort to protect the public, and other times there’s a retailer with an ulterior motive.

Several news outlets have shared supposed research into a cybersecurity concern about selfies. Specifically, the alarm is over selfies that include hand gestures such as a peace sign, which leaves your fingerprints facing the camera. The rumor is that hackers can download the picture, zoom in on your hands, and use the image of your fingerprints for biometric cybercrime. Once they have this copy of your prints, they can break into your smartphone through Touch ID or access your compatible bank account with any fingerprint sensor.

Multiple cybersecurity experts have come out to explain how far-fetched this scenario is, and to state that current technology isn’t even close to making this possible. Any attempt to zoom in on your fingers would produce a flesh-toned blur rather than the highly specific ridges and swirls needed to reproduce your biometric data.

So why would anyone think this up in the first place? Further investigation into this rumor may have uncovered a connection: a retailer who markets a “security film” that you wear over your fingertips at all times, preventing anyone from stealing your fingerprints through photos, objects you touch, or day-to-day interaction.

Is there any harm in keeping your fingertips out of your pictures? No, of course not. But this is so low on the list of things you should actually be worried about when it comes to protecting your identity and your data that it’s almost laughable. Instead, it’s far better to pay attention to where that selfie might end up, what your privacy settings are for the social media platform where you’re going to share it, and more.

Now for some serious consideration of your hands and your identity, learn more about the Identity Theft Resource Center’s Hands-On Privacy program.

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