Police 3D Print Dead Man’s Finger to Unlock Phone

Fusion reports that American law enforcement officers have asked Professor Anil Jain of Michigan State University to help unlock a dead man’s phone by creating a 3D printed replica of the victim’s fingers. Their goal is to access the phone in the hopes of gaining clues about the identity of the dead man’s murderer. Jain made the fingers using scans supplied by the police. His technique involves coating the plastic fingers with metallic particles in order to make them conductive like human skin. Though Jain has not perfected the technique yet, he believes it will work in this case.

Whilst avoiding the thorny questions that surround when the police should have access to the contents of someone’s phone, there are plenty of other security and privacy issues raised by Jain’s technique. 3D printing is popular. The spread of fingerprint technology shows it will become easier to take copies of people’s prints, perhaps without their consent. If Jain’s methods can be replicated it could blow a hole through the reliance on fingerprints as the sole means of verifying a user’s identity.

Criminals can afford 3D printers too. Expect passwords to make a relative comeback because the only way to mitigate security weaknesses is to put multiple barriers in the way of naughty people.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is the Editor of Commsrisk. Look here for more about the history of Commsrisk and the role played by Eric.

Eric is also the Chief Executive of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a global association of professionals working in risk management and business assurance for communications providers.

Previously Eric was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and he has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and other telcos. He was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.