They copied fingerprints from the sound of swiping the screen!

The PrintListener hacking technique can steal people’s fingerprints through a smartphone’s microphone. This could have profound implications for biometric security systems.

Researchers have discovered how to reconstruct a person’s fingerprint from the sound they make when swiping a touchscreen.

The discovery, made by a team from the US and China, could have profound implications for biometric security systems used in everything from smartphones to door entry locks.

The technique, called PrintListener, recreates the pattern of the finger’s bubbly lines through the acoustic signals it produces as it slides across the screen.

Hackers could use the microphone on a smartphone to record the sound and steal the victim’s fingerprint, the researchers say.

“Due to its widespread use, fingerprint leakage can lead to the theft of sensitive information, enormous economic and personnel losses, and even the potential compromise of national security,” the researchers wrote in the paper detailing their findings.

Using PrintListener in “realistic scenarios,” the researchers were able to partially reconstruct a person’s fingerprint 27.9 percent of the time and completely reconstruct it 9.3 percent of the time.

The method was described in a team of researchers from the University of Colorado in the US and Tsinghua University, Wuhan University and Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China in a paper titled “PrintListener: Uncovering the vulnerability of fingerprint authentication via the finger friction sound”.

The researchers noted that protection against fingerprint copying is likely to include special screen protectors on mobile devices, but new sound analysis techniques could also be developed.

The best measure to prevent fingerprint theft is to change the way we interact with smartphones and screens. “For example, users should try not to swipe their fingers across the phone screen when making voice and video calls on social media platforms,” the paper said.

According to a recent report by Allied Market Research, the global fingerprint biometrics market is expected to be worth about $75 billion by 2032, up from $21 billion in 2022.

The report also noted that this projection could be affected by “operational concerns about privacy and security.”

Ece Nagihan

Hi, I'm Ece. I am a writer for Expat Guide Turkey and I strive to create the best content for you. To contact me, you can send an e-mail to Happy reading!

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