DailyDirt: Passwords? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Passwords

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Fingerprint-based biometric security systems are everywhere now, but there are some well-known problems with using your fingerprints instead of a password. First off, you unconsciously leave copies of your fingerprints just about everywhere you go. Still, fingerprint sensors seem to be getting better and better. I'll stick to my 4-digit PIN for now, though, thanks, but if you like using your finger for your digital locks, check out these links. If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.

Filed Under: biometrics, fingerprint, fingerprints, identification, passwords, pin, security, sensors
Companies: qualcomm, vkansee


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  1. identicon
    KRA, 12 Mar 2015 @ 7:59pm

    Re: Are fingerprints really unique?

    It has been a long time since I took stats, but you don't have to test an entire population to get valid and reliable data. The idea is to take a random sample and then apply your findings to the population--the particular type of analysis tells you what your sample size needs to be.

    The issue with fingerprint identification is the lack of consistency in matching and the lack of any scientific basis for calling something a match. This tidbit from a Popular Mechanics article has haunted me since I first read it:

    A 2006 study by the University of Southampton in England asked six veteran fingerprint examiners to study prints taken from actual criminal cases. The experts were not told that they had previously examined the same prints. The researchers' goal was to determine if contextual information—for example, some prints included a notation that the suspect had already confessed—would affect the results. But the experiment revealed a far more serious problem: The analyses of fingerprint examiners were often inconsistent regardless of context. Only two of the six experts reached the same conclusions on second examination as they had on the first.


    Our method of taking prints and evaluating them sucks, even if we assume they are all unique. Interestingly, I trust tech companies to improve fingerprint technology more than I trust law enforcement to. Tech companies have a motive to get it right and law enforcement has a motive to keep it fuzzy.

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