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Security & privacy

Doing this in selfies could let thieves steal your identity

The first selfie ever was taken in 1839 but the trend really exploded when social media took off in the mid-2000s. There are special phone cases to provide better lighting on your face, selfie-sticks to extend your reach, and in 2013 the Oxford Dictionary made “selfie” the Word of the Year.

But while you try to capture your good side, you may want to leave your hands out of the photo. New research from Japan shows posting photos where your fingerprints are visible could become a new way for criminals to steal your information.

A team from Japan’s National Institute of Informatics was able to recreate fingerprints by analyzing photos they appeared in. Even though the camera they used was placed more than nine feet from the subject (nearly three time’s the arm’s length used for selfies), the team was able to create accurate copies of the fingerprints from the photos.

You may see this as a cause for concern since smartphones, tablets, and now new laptops can be unlocked with fingerprints. However, gaining access to your devices this way is possible, but not very probable.

First of all, most photos people post don’t have good enough lighting in order for the photo to be analyzed. So finding a good photo would be difficult. Then the thief would need to properly size the fingerprint to a life-size scale and transfer the image to a mold. Then after all that work, the thief still needs to get a hold of your device to press the mold against the fingerprint reader.

What can you do?

Turn your fingers around. This way, your fingerprints are not visible to the camera’s lens.

Honestly, there are many easier ways to gain access to a device. For instance, one little girl waited until her mom fell asleep and then pressed her mother’s finger against her phone’s print reader.

More about selfies

12 wacky ways to take a selfie

This is the most pathetic phone accessory I’ve ever seen

The selfie capital of the U.S. isn’t where you think App background

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