Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Fake Fingerprints


Fingerprint scanning devices often use basic technology, such as an optical camera that take pictures of fingerprints which are then “read” by a computer. In order to assess how vulnerable the scanners are to spoofing, Schuckers and her research team made casts from live fingers using dental materials and used Play-Doh to create molds. They also assembled a collection of cadaver fingers.

In the laboratory, the researchers then systematically tested more than 60 of the faked samples. The results were a 90 percent false verification rate.

“The machines could not distinguish between a live sample and a fake one, ” Schuckers explained. “Since liveness detection is based on the recognition of physiological activities as signs of life, we hypothesized that fingerprint images from live fingers would show a specific changing moisture pattern due to perspiration but cadaver and spoof fingerprint images would not.”


Previous fingerprint stories have included “Fingerprint Privacy” and “Fingerprints at Disney: The Desensitization Imperative,” which contained a link to the classic gummy finger paper, “How to fake fingerprints.”

One comment on "Fake Fingerprints"

  • Owen says:

    Next you’re going to tell me that in Minority Report Tom Cruise couldn’t have gotten back into the office after getting fired by flashing his old eyeballs in a plastic baggie?

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