Fingerprints

Police in Wales managed to arrest and convict a drug dealer by identifying his fingerprint from a photo posted on WhatsApp. The South Wales Police department got its hands on the photo, which depicted the hand of a man holding ecstasy tablets in his palm, after searching the phone of a person arrested in the town of Bridgend. Police identified the fingerprints from the photograph, then matched it to the alleged dealer. In total, 11 convictions were made in association with the case.

Even clear, clean, complete fingerprints are not the perfect indicator that they are often presented as. Most notoriously, Brandon Mayfield, an American lawyer, was wrongly linked by four fingerprint experts to the 2004 Madrid train bombing. He was arrested and detained for two weeks, before investigators realised that an Algerian man, Ouhnane Daoud, was the real source of the print.

Technology companies would have us believe that biometrics is the holy grail. Shoppers will soon be able to take a scan of their fingerprint or face to authorise a credit card purchase, instead of entering a PIN, as part of a crackdown on payment fraud. We also now have this access/security option with our mobiles.

The biggest security problems are not [always] of our own making. Banks only allow a six digit pin to access our accounts. Why not 26? Surely they have the technology? Internet access to accounts that require passwords are usually throttled at 8 digits. Security of your accounts is always treated as a third cousin to costs and profits. We [meaning most of you] embrace this technology because your dumb and lazy. You just want to flash your phone or card and get going. You’ve just added 15 seconds to your disposable leisure time. Do it often enough and by the end of the day you will probably have a full minute. The options of what to do with all of that time must be endless. That’s the lazy bit. The dumb bit is with passwords. There’s an article every few weeks about that so I won’t bother.

So kids, remember not to show your fingerprints in photos, or if you must, cover them with super glue.