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How flashing a peace sign can set you up for identity theft

One researcher claims that modern cameras are so powerful, he can swipe fingerprints from your selfies. So watch how you show off those digits.

Not even Winston is safe.

British Government

Flashing the peace sign in a selfie could be setting you up for disaster.

The "zoom-and-enhance" technique that earned derision in the TV crime procedurals of recent years might not seem so ridiculous when current phone cameras are capable of capturing a fingerprint accurately enough for someone to steal it.

Isao Echizen, a professor at the Digital Content and Media Sciences Research Division of the National Institute of Informatics, told Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun that he had successfully obtained fingerprints from photos of exposed fingers taken from up to three metres away.

He warned against the popular peace sign pose specifically, since it's a trend that runs rampant in selfies in Japan. It easily allowed any would-be identity thieves to pair fingerprints with a face.

His team at the National Institute of Informatics has developed a fingerprint anti-theft prevention technology. The titanium-oxide based substance can obscure and even produce false images of any fingerprints that find their way into frame.

It may be a little early to sound the sirens on this one, but with biometric security becoming more and more commonplace on phones and computers, Echizen warned that while a password could be easily changed, a fingerprint or a retina? Not so much.