Flash the Peace Sign, Get Your Phone Hacked?

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Flashing the peace sign may put smartphone users at risk, according to Japan's National Institute of Informatics (NII).

Biometric details are readable in images taken from as far as 10 feet away, researchers told Japanese daily newspaper Sankei Shimbun. All a hacker needs is a scanned copy of your fingerprints and face to, in true Mission: Impossible style, crack a locked handset, computer, or security system, and steal your identity.

"Even if you just casually show the peace sign to the camera, your fingerprint can be stolen," Isao Echizu, professor of NII's digital content and media sciences research division, told Sankei, as translated by the International Business Times.

"Biometric information such as fingerprints cannot be changed over the course of a person's lifetime," Echizu continued. "I want to raise awareness so people know how to protect themselves."

Of course, the scammer would need access to your device in addition to your peace sign snaps to get anywhere with this scheme. If you're truly concerned, the NII research team developed a fix: a transparent film with white titanium oxide printed in a specific pattern. Place it on your finger like a Band-Aid to obscure your real print while creating a fake one, IBT reports. Or you can just stop flashing a peace symbol, giving a thumbs up, or waving to the camera.

It's not exactly news that fingerprints, though a handy way to quickly access your personal devices, aren't very secure. In late 2014, German researchers warned that scammers can replicate them with a high-quality photo of your digits.

A team at Michigan State University in March also released a video describing how they opened two locked smartphones using special ink and paper with the fingerprint sensors.

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