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Paul Merrell

Feds Claim They Can Enter a House and Demand Fingerprints to Unlock Everyone's Phones - 0 views

  • Under the Fourth Amendment, Americans are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures, but according to one group of federal prosecutors, just being in the wrong house at the wrong time is cause enough to make every single person inside provide their fingerprints and unlock their phones.Back in 2014, a Virginia Circuit Court ruled that while suspects cannot be forced to provide phone passcodes, biometric data like fingerprints doesn’t have the same constitutional protection. Since then, multiple law enforcement agencies have tried to force individual suspects to unlock their phones with their fingers, but none have claimed the sweeping authority found in a Justice Department memorandum recently uncovered by Forbes.
  • In the court document filed earlier this year, federal prosecutors in California argued that a warrant for a mass finger-unlocking was constitutionally sound even though “the government does not know ahead of time the identity of every digital device or every fingerprint (or indeed, every other piece of evidence) that it will find in the search” because “it has demonstrated probable cause that evidence may exist at the search location.” Criminal defense lawyer Marina Medvin, however, disagreed. Advertisement Advertisement “They want the ability to get a warrant on the assumption that they will learn more after they have a warrant,” Medvin told Forbes. “This would be an unbelievably audacious abuse of power if it were permitted.”Unfortunately, other documents related to the case were not publicly available, so its unclear if the search was actually executed. Even so, Medvin believes the memorandum sets a deeply troubling precedent, using older case law regarding the collection of fingerprint evidence to request complete access to the “amazing amount of information” found on a cellphone.
Paul Merrell

Hackers Prove Fingerprints Are Not Secure, Now What? | nsnbc international - 0 views

  • The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) recently revealed that an estimated 5.6 million government employees were affected by the hack; and not 1.1 million as previously assumed.
  • Samuel Schumach, spokesman for the OPM, said: “As part of the government’s ongoing work to notify individuals affected by the theft of background investigation records, the Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Defense have been analyzing impacted data to verify its quality and completeness. Of the 21.5 million individuals whose Social Security Numbers and other sensitive information were impacted by the breach, the subset of individuals whose fingerprints have been stolen has increased from a total of approximately 1.1 million to approximately 5.6 million.” This endeavor expended the use of the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the National Security Agency (NSA), and the Pentagon. Schumer added that “if, in the future, new means are developed to misuse the fingerprint data, the government will provide additional information to individuals whose fingerprints may have been stolen in this breach.” However, we do not need to wait for the future for fingerprint data to be misused and coveted by hackers.
  • Look no further than the security flaws in Samsung’s new Galaxy 5 smartphone as was demonstrated by researchers at Security Research Labs (SRL) showing how fingerprints, iris scans and other biometric identifiers could be fabricated and yet authenticated by the Apple Touch ID fingerprints scanner. The shocking part of this demonstration is that this hack was achieved less than 2 days after the technology was released to the public by Apple. Ben Schlabs, researcher for SRL explained: “We expected we’d be able to spoof the S5’s Finger Scanner, but I hoped it would at least be a challenge. The S5 Finger Scanner feature offers nothing new except—because of the way it is implemented in this Android device—slightly higher risk than that already posed by previous devices.” Schlabs and other researchers discovered that “the S5 has no mechanism requiring a password when encountering a large number of incorrect finger swipes.” By rebotting the smartphone, Schlabs could force “the handset to accept an unlimited number of incorrect swipes without requiring users to enter a password [and] the S5 fingerprint authenticator [could] be associated with sensitive banking or payment apps such as PayPal.”
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  • Schlab said: “Perhaps most concerning is that Samsung does not seem to have learned from what others have done less poorly. Not only is it possible to spoof the fingerprint authentication even after the device has been turned off, but the implementation also allows for seemingly unlimited authentication attempts without ever requiring a password. Incorporation of fingerprint authentication into highly sensitive apps such as PayPal gives a would-be attacker an even greater incentive to learn the simple skill of fingerprint spoofing.” Last year Hackers from the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) proved Apple wrong when the corporation insisted that their new iPhone 5S fingerprint sensor is “a convenient and highly secure way to access your phone.” CCC stated that it is as easy as stealing a fingerprint from a drinking glass – and anyone can do it.
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