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Names in Vein

2018 may well have been the year of facial recognition, if not biometric identification from iris and fingerprint to heart and butt, but not many people have talked about vein authentication, which has been around for more than a decade and uses computer vision to read the bloodways in palms in order to verify identity. It’s already being used in banks, office buildings, research labs, intelligence agencies, and other high-security environments, but its reputation may just be a result of security through relative obscurity. Researchers at the recent Chaos Communications Congress were able to fool a vein recognition system with a pair of wax hands. The researchers used a modified DSLR camera to take pictures of vein patterns on hands, tweaked the contrast, printed them out, and then covered them with hand-shaped beeswax. The not-even-Madame Tussauds-worthy appendages were then used to successfully fool vein recognition systems by both Fujitsu and Hitachi. As tie-dye t-patterns and Insane Clown Posse makeup have demonstrated, basic patterns and objects are sometimes enough to trip up AI, and a reminder that more work needs to be done before we trust these systems for serious security applications.
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