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article imageDoes 3D printing present a global security risk?

By Tim Sandle     Oct 23, 2016 in Technology
3D printing (or ‘additive printing’) has brought many benefits and its future promises more innovations. Could 3D printing be used for crime? Such as printing a copy of a hand to fool finger-print security systems?
There may be a touch of ‘Mission Impossible’ or ‘James Bond’ about the idea of creating a 3D copy of a person’s hand and using this for nefarious purposes such as fooling a finger-print scanner on a secure safe. However, such a process is close to possibility according to Professor Anil Jain of Michigan State University.
Professor Jain has been running studies in his laboratory to look at how effective global fingerprint scanners are and how they can be calibrated to avoid criminal intent. Such scanners are found in police departments, airport immigration counters, banks and with personal safes.
For the research, Professor Jain’s team set out to create a 3D model of a hand to carry out the tests. In many cases it was possible to create a replica so life-like that it fooled many systems. To develop such a complex replica requires an ultra-high resolution 3D printer. The printer needs to be capable of producing the same ridges and valleys as would be found in a real finger.
Speaking with Controlled Environments, Professor Jain said: “Like any optical device, fingerprint and hand scanners need to be calibrated, but currently there is no standard method for calibrating them.”
The lack of a calibration standard was the basis of the 3D printing research. This project was part-funded by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology.
He then discussed the criminal implications: “As a byproduct of this research we realized a fake 3D hand, essentially a spoof, with someone’s fingerprints, could potentially allow a crook to steal the person’s identity to break into a vault, contaminate a crime scene or enter the country illegally.”
More details are shown in the following video, produced by Michigan State University biometrics researchers:
The consequence of this is that developers of security systems will need to invest in creating spoof-resistant fingerprint scanners. Or perhaps invest in retinal scanning instead.
A white paper on the subject has also been prepared. It is titled “3D Whole Hand Targets: Evaluating Slap and Contactless Fingerprint Readers.”
More about 3D printing, Security, Fingerprint, safes, digital security
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