IDG Contributor Network: Smartphone sensors pose a serious security risk

As more people look for ways to protect their smartphones from hackers and criminals, we look for additional means beyond typing in a PIN. A popular method now is fingerprint analysis, where users can place a finger on their phone to unlock it or to make a purchase. And as crime shows and police officers have told us for decades, every fingerprint is completely unique and is an absolutely certain method to identify different people.

However, researchers with the NYU Tandon School of Engineering announced via a press release on Tuesday that they have essentially created a fingerprint called a MasterPrint which can match “between 26 and 65 percent” of users’ fingerprints. The researchers took advantage of weaknesses in how phone fingerprinting security works, particularly their small screens, and by exploiting the differences between partial and full fingerprints.

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