The peace sign is many people’s go-to picture pose, and it’s particularly popular in East Asia, but according to researchers it’s also the perfect way to expose your fingerprints online. In a study conducted at Japan’s National Institute of Informatics (NII), investigators found that, if the focus and lighting was right, they could recreate fingerprints from images shot up to 3 meters (nearly 10 feet) from the subject.
Fingerprint authentication is now the norm on smartphones and common enough on some other devices like laptops. What’s more, phone cameras are consistently improving and there are more ways than ever to share your snaps online. It would seem, then, that the number of images from which fingerprints can be extracted can only grow. Still, there’s probably little cause for concern. Not only would a wrongdoer have to go through the process of building an accurate fingerprint from pictures; they would subsequently need to make a passable mold of said fingerprint and, finally, gain physical access to your smartphone to make use of the thing. In short, it’s complicated.