Selfie cameras on mobile phones have become better and better. The Vivo V5s, launched last month in India, comes with a whopping 20-megapixel front camera. This is great for selfie lovers, but it seems you can have too much of a good thing. The selfies that you post or exchange are of such sharp quality that baddies may be able to extract vital information — like your finger print. This has become easier since making a 2-finger peace sign in your selfie has become fashionable and trendy. Japan’s National Institute of Informatics (NII) found that even images taken from as far as three meters away from the subject can be read — and the image of the finger, if taken in good light, can be processed, to extract a finger print.
One can see the potential danger: You might have used your fingerprint to secure your phone. And in India, the Aadhaar authentication depends largely on a finger print scan. What if someone extracts your finger print from a selfie you posted, then gets access to your devices? The web portal Snopes which specializes in fact-checking urban legends, points out reasonably, that the fear raised by Japanese media after the NII disclosure remains just that — a fear. There is no recorded instance of fingerprint ID theft via selfie — yet.
But the threat is real enough for the Japan-based institute to be working on a transparent film containing titanium oxide that can be attached to fingers to hide one’s prints. The film prevents identity theft but does not interfere with fingerprints being used for ID checking. The product is not yet ready for commercial launch, we are told, but if someone is already working on a remedy, we can assume that the threat is out there! Better safe than sorry, no more showing the finger in selfies, OK?