3-D Printed Bump Keys

It appears a token technology that we’ve relied on to secure our possessions and domiciles for centuries has been hacked by clever men with 3-D printers and rubber mallets.

These 3-D Printed Skeleton Keys Can Pick High-Security Locks in Seconds (Wired)

One of the hairier unintended consequences of cheap 3-D printing is that any troublemaker can duplicate a key without setting foot in a hardware store. But clever lockpickers like Jos Weyers and Christian Holler already are taking that DIY key-making trick a step further: They can 3-D print a slice of plastic or metal that opens even high-security locks in seconds, without even seeing the original key.

The article at the link also has this very informative gif a showing how a bump key works in a lock.

Source: Wired

According to the logic employed by some critics of biometric technologies, this means locks opened using metal keys are useless now. I, for one, however, will not be contracting with any security guard services today. A fingerprint front door unlocker would be cool, though.

Biometrics for vaccination records

Scanning babies fingerprints could save lives (Michigan State Univ.)

Each year 2.5 million children die worldwide because they do not receive life-saving vaccinations at the appropriate time.

Anil Jain, Michigan State University professor, is developing a fingerprint-based recognition method to track vaccination schedules for infants and toddlers, which will increase immunization coverage and save lives.

Operation ASHA has been using biometrics for tuberculosis treatment, too.

Biometric voter verification in Brazil

Biometric voting machine to be used by 21.6 million Brazilians (Agência Brasil)

Over 20 million voters—15% of the population to take part in the 2014 elections—are estimated to cast their ballot by means of a voting machine with biometric identification, announced the Superior Electoral Court (“TSE”) on Wednesday (Aug 20). The technology can be found in 762 municipalities, among which 15 state capitals. The machines use the electors’ fingerprints to recognize their identity.

That’s like, so 2001

MAY, 2013
Boston PD Tested Facial Recognition Software By Recording Every Face At Local Music Festivals (Daily Caller)

Concertgoers at last year’s annual Boston Calling music festivals weren’t just there to watch the show — they were watched themselves as test subjects for Boston police’ new facial recognition technology, which reportedly analyzed every attendee at the May and September two-day events.

Employees at IBM — the outside contractor involved in deploying the tech alongside Boston Police — planned the test of its Smart Surveillance System and Intelligent Video Analytics to execute “face capture” on “every person” at the concerts in 2013.

Welcome to the Snooper Bowl (Time)

In a move that has been both hailed and decried, the Tampa Bay police department used the occasion of Super Bowl XXXV to conduct a high-tech surveillance experiment on its unsuspecting guests. In total secrecy (but with the full cooperation of the National Football League), the faces of each of the games’ 72,000 attendees were scanned and checked against a database of potential troublemakers. The news, first reported in the St. Petersburg Times, raises some urgent questions: is this the end of crime–or the end of privacy?

The surveillance system, FaceTrac, is based on technology originally developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to teach computers to recognize their users, and was installed by a Pennsylvania firm called Graphco Technologies.

The technology and key personnel from Graphco were acquired by SecurLinx in 2003.

FBI captures long-time fugitive using facial recognition

Neil Stammer Captured Poster (Screenshot)

FBI and facial recognition catch a fugitive of 14 years (FBI)

Special Agent Russ Wilson had just been assigned the job of fugitive coordinator in our Albuquerque Division—the person responsible for helping to catch the region’s bank robbers, murderers, sex offenders, and other criminals who had fled rather than face the charges against them.

“In addition to the current fugitives, I had a stack of old cases,” Wilson said, “and Stammer’s stood out.” Working with our Office of Public Affairs, a new wanted poster for Stammer was posted on FBI.gov in hopes of generating tips.

At about the same time, a special agent with the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS)—a branch of the U.S. Department of State whose mission includes protecting U.S. Embassies and maintaining the integrity of U.S. visa and passport travel documents—was testing new facial recognition software designed to uncover passport fraud. On a whim, the agent decided to use the software on FBI wanted posters. When he came upon Stammer’s poster online, a curious thing happened: Stammer’s face matched a person whose passport photo carried a different name.

INDIA: Cash for Poor to Dilute Power of Oligarchs (Bloomberg)

IUndian central bank Governor Raghuram Rajan urged the government to directly transfer cash to the poor instead of offering public services, saying the money would liberate millions from corrupt middlemen and politicians.

Cash would empower the poor to choose where to buy goods, providing an alternative to government-run monopolies and creating competition in the private sector, Rajan said in a speech in Mumbai yesterday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to bring bank accounts to the poor — set to be unveiled this week — would facilitate the transfers, Rajan said.

Who should pay for public sector biometrics?

CALIFORNIA: Bill could boost vehicle fees for fingerprint ID programs (Manteca Bulletin)

Counties will be allowed to increase vehicle registration fees to pay for fingerprint identification programs under a bill that advanced to the governor’s desk Monday.

A law passed in 1997 created the Cal-ID program, allowing counties to charge $1 surcharges on vehicle registration fees to fund programs to identify people under arrest and human remains with fingerprints. Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, says his bill will help the programs keep up with advancements in technology.

This article caught my eye, because these kinds of biometric systems can really help save a lot of law enforcement resources especially in a state as large as California. These systems however, do cost money.

It really is a retina scanner

Image source: Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems

I was all set to roll my eyes (hey, it’s Friday!) at another case of the iris-vs.-retina inversion when, lo and behold, we find this article actually is about retina technology.

Portable Retina Scanner Could Protect Your Identity on the Go (Live Science)

A portable retina scanner small enough to fit in a purse could one day be used to combat identity theft and strengthen personal security.

Nice introduction to biometrics

Biometrics: New IDs that are uniquely you (Student Science)

Rapidly and accurately identifying people is useful. The police sometimes use biometric technology to ID criminals, disaster victims and missing children. Bank tellers may use biometrics to verify the identity of anyone attempting to withdraw money from an account. Because of the usefulness of biometric technology, governments are starting to include fingerprint and other biometric data in driver’s licenses, ID cards and passports.

Research on biometrics is advancing rapidly. Here we meet researchers behind three teams developing new ways to ID people.

The summer of finger veins continues

Biometric ATM technology proves to be a hit in Eastern Europe (Companies and Markets)

Polish bank BPS was the first in Europe to install biometric ATM technology. The technology, developed by Hitachi, allows a user to gain access to their account without a card or pin number. It is an example of so-called “finger vein” biometrics, which involves recognising a unique pattern of micro-veins beneath the surface that is then referenced with a pre-registered profile.

Finger veins sure have been a hot topic in biometrics this summer.

From Hitachi:
Finger vein authentication uses leading-edge light transmission technology developed by Hitachi to undergo pattern-matching and authentication. Near-infrared light is transmitted through the finger and partially absorbed by hemoglobin in the veins to capture a unique finger vein pattern profile, which is then matched with a pre-registered profile to verify individual identity.

Image source: Hitachi

Fujisoft and mofiria team up to deploy pattern-recognition based on finger veins

Partnership Focuses On Vein-Recognition Biometrics (Business Solutions)

In an interview with Find Biometrics, mofiria CEO Satoshi Amagai and Jintaro Nozawa, Fujisoft explained that, because of its accuracy and reliability, FVA technology is particularly valuable for industries that require high-security standards such as government, finance, critical infrastructure, medical, cloud computing, and education. Mofira’s patented device layout can be easily incorporated into a broad range of products and services including: gateway security systems, financial transaction devices, or mobile devices. For example, mofiria’s FVA solution has been embedded in ATM terminals in China for Banks that wish to differentiate themselves with more secure customer services. The growing demand for transaction safety and security will lead to increased adoption of biometric authentication technology in the banking industry.

US government adding biometrics to terrorism watchlist database

More than 1 million people are listed in U.S. terrorism database (Washington Post)

The documents obtained by The Intercept also indicated that the government, with the assistance of the CIA, is in the midst of a major effort to obtain biometric data on people in the database. The records say analysts have added 730,000 biometric files to the database; some of those files include fingerprints, iris scans and facial photographs.

As of last year, the database contained 860,000 biometric files related to 144,000 people.

There’s a lot of really interesting information at the link.

Nigeria vetting public sector pensioners with biometrics

Nigeria: Govt to Commence Nationwide Verification of Pensioners (All Africa)

…[T]he departments within its supervision include the civil service pension, police pension, pensioner support service, information technology and corporate support services as well as Treasury Funded Parastatals Pension.

She noted that verification exercise is expected to among other things, eliminate ghost pensioners, and halt the duplication of payments; Correct and eradicate anomalies such as over payments and under payments; pay pensions, gratuities, death benefits and other pensioner entitlements; update records of next of kins; and enrol new pensioners.

She said PTAD had also succeeded in establishing a robust complaints resolution mechanism which had improved services to pensioners.

A modest proposal

Time to shape our biometric future (The Age)

…[W]hile biometrics are indeed an important tool and will be part of future security solutions, we cannot afford “biometric creep”, a situation in which we gradually cede our privacy. Now is the time to have the debate to determine what an acceptable biometric future will look like.

The article linked above, by a thoughtful former federal police officer, is worth reading in its entirety.

We offered a framework for this debate in the early days of this blog. The tone of the series of posts is highly academic but I don’t think they suffer because of it.

The posts titles are:
Debating biometrics [Introduction]
Part I: The Right to Privacy
Part II: The Nature of Consent
Part III: Transparency
Part IV: A Framework for the Discussion of Privacy Issues
Part V: Filling in the framework; Absolute advocacy dos and don’ts
Part VI: Filling in the framework, subjectivity and interpretation