Posting a picture may be the key to having your identity stolen

Say Cheese! Pictures tied to identity theft
Posted at 6:00 AM, Mar 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-14 13:56:07-04

Some of your favorite celebrities no doubt have posed with it, sharing the traditional peace sign or thumbs up to millions of their followers.

What they don’t know is that cyber security experts are warning that doing that is an easy way to have your identity stolen.

“Using a high-end program such as Photoshop and then getting a very high-end 3-D printer or a 2-D printer, they can make an exact replica of your digit,” said Michael Wheeler, Vice President and Owner of Novex Printing Systems.

Think that peace sign or your thumbs up comes without consequences? Not so says Wheeler.

“It can literally be the camera on your phone if you have an advanced camera like a Samsung or iPhone 6," he said. 

How does it work?

The camera on most iPhones and many Samsung and other devices is so high resolution, your fingerprint can go from your phone to a 3-D printer in a matter of minutes.

“An HDR picture was taken on my iPhone and transferred to Amber’s computer. Now she has it in Photoshop,” said Wheeler.

Photoshop is where the picture can be cropped, enlarged, and fine-tuned. From there, it can be printed by a highly skilled laser printer. Wheeler’s device can create a raised version of the thumbprint that can act as an actual fingerprint.

“From the time we took the picture, to the time we printed it off on the laser, was less than ten minutes,” said Wheeler.

“You’d pull that print and then you’d duplicate it and then use that copy to authenticate to, let’s say a device,” said Eric Vanderburg, a cyber security expert.

Fingerprints are tied to a lot. For many, that includes mobile banking, the app on your phone tied to your personal bank account. But that’s really just the beginning. The future of privacy will likely lie in our fingertips. Experts agree access to almost anything within a decade or two will require a print as a password.

“Each generation is more comfortable with their technology and wants to utilize it in different ways and doesn’t pay as much attention to what the privacy risks are associated with that,” said Vanderburg.

Don't let it happen to you

Some ways to reduce your risk of becoming a victim is to have tight privacy settings on social media so you know exactly who is seeing your picture. Easiest of all though, keep your fingerprints out of frame.