How Flashing the 'Peace' Sign Can Get Your Identity Stolen

peace sign online security identity theft

Could flashing the "peace" sign in photos lead to someone stealing your identity? Yes, it could! Here's how.

Research by a team at Japan's National Institute of Informatics (NII) says so, raising alarm bells over the popular two-fingered pose.

Fingerprint recognition technology is becoming widely available to verify identities, such as when logging on to smartphones, tablets, and laptop computers.

But the proliferation of mobile devices with high-quality cameras and social media sites where people post photographs raises the risk of leaked personal information, reports said.

The NII researchers were able to copy fingerprints based on photos taken by a digital camera three meters (nine feet) away from the subject.

"Just by casually making a peace sign in front of a camera, fingerprints can become widely available," NII researcher Isao Echizen told the Sankei Shimbun newspaper for an article published Monday.

"Fingerprint data can be recreated if fingerprints are in focus with strong lighting in a picture," Echizen also told Yomiuri TV.

He added that advanced technology was not necessary, and anyone could easily copy fingerprints.

But NII says it has developed a transparent film containing titanium oxide that can be attached to fingers to hide their prints, the reports said.


Editor's Note: This post was originally published in February 2017 and reviewed and updated in March 2021.