Police Ask 3D Print Lab to Replicate Dead Man's Finger to Unlock Phone

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jul 22, 2016.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot

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    Police in Michigan are reportedly attempting to use a 3D model of a fingerprint to unlock a murder victim's phone and reveal clues that could help solve an open case.

    Fusion reports that the investigation is still ongoing, therefore details remain murky, but essentially instead of requesting that the phone manufacturer unlocks the murder victim's handset, officers have asked computer scientists at Michigan State University to create a 3D printed replica of the victim's fingers so they can do it themselves.

    The victim's body was apparently too decayed for a fingerprint to be directly applied to the phone, but the police already had a scan of the victim's prints from when the man was arrested in a previous case.

    Most fingerprint readers like Apple's Touch ID are capacitive, meaning they use electric circuits that close when human skin comes into contact with them, which generates the image of the print.

    However, a 3D printed finger doesn't possess the conductivity that human skin does. So, to circumvent the problem, engineers coated the printed fingers in a thin layer of metallic particles so that the fingerprint scanner can read them.

    Currently it's unclear whether the method works, as the designers haven't yet delivered the printed fingers to the police to attempt to unlock the victim's phone.

    Another potential stumbling block is that if the phone in question is an iPhone, then police may come up against a passcode screen, since newer Apple handsets request a passcode if the fingerprint unlock hasn't been used within eight hours and the code hasn't been entered in six days.

    But if the technology is a success, then theoretically the authorities could use it on cases involving living suspects by applying for a court order.

    Fusion notes that the courts draw a distinction between a fingerprint password and a memorized one. "Courts generally draw a line between the 'contents of the mind' (which is protected) and 'tangible' bodily evidence like blood, DNA, and fingerprints (which is not)," said Bryan Choi, a security, law and technology researcher.

    So while a memorized password might be protected by the Fifth Amendment which protects against self-incrimination, a fingerprint isn't. Indeed, in 2014, a court in Virginia ruled that a suspect can be required to unlock their phone using their fingerprint.

    Therefore if a suspect is at large but the police have their phone in hand and their fingerprints on record, there's nothing to say that the method could be used to unlock the device in the owner's absence.

    Choi argues that in this day and age, phones should be considered extensions of the mind and therefore protected under the Fifth Amendment and not just the Fourth Amendment (protection against illegal search and seizure).

    "We offload so many of our personal thoughts, moments, tics, and habits to our cellphones," Choi told Fusion. "Having those contents aired in court feels like having your innermost thoughts extracted and spilled unwillingly in public."

    Article Link: Police Ask 3D Print Lab to Replicate Dead Man's Finger to Unlock Phone
     
  2. 555gallardo macrumors regular

    555gallardo

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    Plot twist: iPhone would require passcode unlock and Apple won't provide it (since it wasn't owner of a torrent site)
     
  3. sp3k0psv3t macrumors regular

    sp3k0psv3t

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  4. MRxROBOT macrumors 6502

    MRxROBOT

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    This is downright scary, at what point do fingerprints cease to be an incriminating factor because of this? If you've been arrested before, the police can literally leave your fingerprints at the scene...
     
  5. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    Ewww

    I suppose that was only a matter of time, but if the thumb was too decayed to unlock it, wouldn't the poor thumbprint be on the printed digit as well?

    Also doesnt the iPhone require the passcode after a certain amount of time, between usage?
     
  6. Telos101 macrumors regular

    Telos101

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    Pretty sure those issues are covered in the article!
     
  7. Benjamin Frost Suspended

    Benjamin Frost

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    #7
    How does one alert loved ones of one's passwords in the event of one's death?

    I feel that someone needs to invent an app or some neat way for solving this problem. Leaving a paper note isn't very secure.

    How about this? One could instruct Apple to lift a password restriction on an iCloud account on presentation of a death certificate. That way, passwords stored in iCloud could then be accessible.
     
  8. haruhiko macrumors 68040

    haruhiko

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    That's why Apple requires your passcode if your phone hasn't been accessed by Touch ID for 8 hours.
     
  9. NT1440 macrumors G4

    NT1440

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    Uh...when introducing the TouchID didn't Apple specifically describe how the touch ID goes down several layers of the skin?

    I don't see how this is going to work.
     
  10. ibookg409 Suspended

    ibookg409

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    They are trying to find his killer. Why is this a problem?
    --- Post Merged, Jul 22, 2016 ---
    The fingerprint on file was from an earlier case. It's a good print.
     
  11. alexgowers macrumors 65816

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    Key word is phone. i.e. it's not an iPhone. passcode pretty much blocks this form of intrusion on iPhones. Sure it may solve a murder but if you can 3d print something the security measure isn't any good without extra checks and fallbacks.
     
  12. M2M macrumors 6502

    M2M

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    They 'just' need to print the fingerprint on rubber / silicon and put this kind of mask on the tip of a living finger. If I remember correctly this will fool the iPhone sensor (even if it scans for several skin layers).
     
  13. Kajje macrumors 6502a

    Kajje

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    Coming up: "You have the right to remain silent. Your finger will be chopped off and put on Formaldehyde for possible future use if deemed necessary in a court of law. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you."
     
  14. mrkramer macrumors 603

    mrkramer

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    Apple wouldn't have hacked into a phone in the other case either. If you don't see the difference you need to redhead both articles, but more likely you are deliberately ignoring the difference.

    In this case I'm sure Apple will provide access to iCloud if presented with a valid court order. They don't have to passcode so they can't do it.
     
  15. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #15
    Oh I see, still the passcode requirement seems like it will be a show stopper, but good luck to cops in finding the killer
     
  16. 2010mini macrumors 68040

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    There are already ways to do this. Contact a lawyer to set it up.
     
  17. cdmoore74 macrumors 68020

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    The upcoming retina scanner on the Note 7 is starting to make a whole lot of sense. Using that and a fingerprint reader at the same time would make the phone ultra secure.
     
  18. mrkramer macrumors 603

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    We don't know that it is an iPhone. Do androids with fingerprint scanners have similar features?
     
  19. Gasu E. macrumors 601

    Gasu E.

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    All the fake fingerprints would be from the same source police fingerprinting. One would think that would be characteristically different from real prints at a site.
     
  20. Piggie macrumors 604

    Piggie

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    Current news rumors are that Samsung will be adding Eye Retina Scanning into some of their future phones.
    Would this be more secure than a finger print?
    For you you are not going to break in to a place and leave scans of your retina laying about.
     
  21. ibookg409 Suspended

    ibookg409

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    #21
    You only need the passcode it it was powered down. Perhaps they plugged it in.
     
  22. xero9 macrumors 6502a

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    Really depends. As someone pointed out, we don't know the type of phone. If it is an iPhone, and if they're on some version of iOS 9, they did add an 8 hour requirement for passcode if not unlocked within the last 8 hours as well as requiring a passcode after 6 or 7 days regardless.
     
  23. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

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    They mention in the article that the police have his fingerprints on file from a previous incident. They are asking the experts to create a 3d printed fingerprint from that, not the dead finger.
     
  24. uroshnor macrumors member

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    #24
    1. Holding secrets or valuables in a safe , with specific conditions for release, is a service that lawyers have provided for centuries.

    Paper notes have excellent data integrity, but the search function sucks.

    Putting master passwords or secrets in sealed envelopes and have a lawyer hold them in enscrow, or use a safe deposit box at a bank.

    2. AppleCare already has a procedure for this, as well as for data deletion on death. What they can not currently do is merge two accounts (i.e. Assign the assets from the old account to the new one. They can merely give you access to the old account by doing a password reset)
     
  25. ke-iron macrumors 6502a

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    What makes you think when a person dies they want their loved ones going in their phones. If they didn't learn their finger print using Touch ID or gave them the password while he or she was alive, then most likely they don't want them in the phone while their dead. Apple should absolutely not help people get into dead families phone or accounts. It is up to the family while alive to share that information with their family.
     

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