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United States Crime Government Privacy Security

OPM Says 5.6 million Fingerprints Stolen In Cyberattack 93

mschaffer writes: The Office of Personnel Management data breach that happened this summer just got a little worse. The OPM now says that 5.6 million people's fingerprints were stolen as part of the hacks. The Washington Post reports: "That's more than five times the 1.1 million government officials estimated when the cyberattacks were initially disclosed over the summer. However, OPM said Wednesday the total number of those believed to be caught up in the breaches, which included the theft of the Social Security numbers and addresses of more than 21 million former and current government employees, remains the same."
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OPM Says 5.6 million Fingerprints Stolen In Cyberattack

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  • Credentials (Score:5, Informative)

    by Isarian ( 929683 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2015 @01:16PM (#50583991)

    And this is why fingerprints are NOT good credentials.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Not really, all credentials can be stolen or copied. Fingerprints are just very difficult to change once they have been compromised. That's why that are bad credentials.

    • For something requiring high levels of security, probably not, but that doesn't mean it's not reasonably to use for unlocking a phone or authenticating a small purchase, especially if the alternative is no authentication at all because it's too cumbersome.

      This is a case of why certain types of data should be stored in raw, unencrypted formats. Something like this should be stored as the result of applying some type of one-way function on a fingerprint to store a representation of it. That way you can aut
      • by Salgak1 ( 20136 )
        I know that scanning/modeling each individual fingerprint, and reducing it to a searchable hash is the basic technique the FBI's "IAFIS" system uses: both the record fingerprints and the examined fingerprints are hashed, and hashes are compared for close matches. I can't speak to the specific actual technique (as I recall, it's both proprietary and close-hold), and suspect SEVERAL different hashes are involved, but that's the basic methodology. I worked on the requirements team for the technology update f
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 23, 2015 @01:54PM (#50584469)

      "The OPM is emailing the people affected, advising them to change their fingerprints.

      The advice comes with guidelines for proper fingerprint security, such as having a fingerprints at least ten digits long, with at least one loop, one whorl, one arch, and one "special character". Also, it's recommended to never re-use your fingerprints for multiple sites, and to change your fingerprints at least once every 90 days, being sure to never re-use any of your last ten fingerprints."

    • it's only a matter of time before someone figures out how to print fake finger prints as some sort of stamp, or at the very least transfer them to gummy bears.

      • by fisted ( 2295862 )

        I'd venture a guess that that time is (way) negative.

      • by rsborg ( 111459 )

        it's only a matter of time before someone figures out how to print fake finger prints as some sort of stamp, or at the very least transfer them to gummy bears.

        You mean like how the CCC theoretically defeated TouchID on the iPhone [1]? A pretty basic process, all you need is a 2400 dpi scanner, photo-sensitive PCB, graphite spray, a very nice pristine stray fingerprint (on a glass), and lots and lots of free time and determination.

        Theoretically automated, but basic brute-force defenses and secondary factors would render such an attack as unreliable.

        [1] https://www.ccc.de/en/updates/... [www.ccc.de]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 23, 2015 @01:16PM (#50583993)

    In stealing the real finger prints. Should have randomly wlked the databases and reassign all finger-prints (even better individual fingers) to other persons, also other info (partial phone numbers, name, dates, what not) . So database would be worthless - trancate the SQL database logs a few times to be sure. :)

    See if the backup actually works or not. :)

    If you do not restore your database, how do you know it works??

  • Just change the passwords associated with the accounts...

    Oh wait...can't change those fingerprints so easily.

    THIS is why I hate giving my fingerprints to companies (ie datacenters) who require them for access.

    • maybe I've seen too many movies, but for something that is locked down that tight, it sounds like 'bad guys' would really want to get in there.

      I need my fingers. I would have to have one cut off by a bad guy, so he could use my prints.

      might be very farfetched, but I'm not so sure I'd want to sign up for a security job that needed prints. in fact, it seems quite stupid for a security company to put its people at risk like this!

      • I would have to have one cut off by a bad guy, so he could use my prints ... might be very farfetched

        It is very farfetched. There is no known instance where this has ever happened. The British tabloids printed a story years ago about a severed finger used to gain access, but it was a hoax.

        Many modern fingerprint scanners have pulse detection, so a severed finger wouldn't work.

        You should find something else to worry about, like maybe getting hit by a meteor.

        • if its true that they can't be used if 'cut off'; does every thief who might TRY this, know this?

          it actually matters less if it works. what matters is if anyone ever still thinks it can work and is willing to do this evil deed.

          again, why even take the chance. there is risk and it seems like its not worth any risk at all, with other alternatives being better in many ways.

        • by fisted ( 2295862 )

          Many modern fingerprint scanners have pulse detection, so a severed finger wouldn't work.

          Oh okay, that makes it much better. At least you will know that your missing finger(s) didn't gain the criminals access to whatever they tried to access.

          You're probably assuming it goes more or less like this:
          1. Criminal wants to access fingerprint-based facility
          2. Criminal finds out the fingerprint scanner model
          3. Criminal reads the manual/specification of the scanner
          4. Criminal realizes it won't work with a cut-off finger
          5. Criminal is like "damn, no dice."

          When really it's more like:
          1. Criminal wants to

          • When really it's more like:

            Except that it is NOT like that. That has happened zero, nada, zilch, times. Kidnapping and mutilation are extremely serious crimes. It is unlikely that any sane person is going to risk that to gain access to your iPhone. Do you also refuse to wear Nikes, because someone might cut your feet off to steal them?

            • by fisted ( 2295862 )

              Except that it is NOT like that. I have heard of it zero, nada, zilch, times.

              FTFY

              Kidnapping and mutilation are extremely serious crimes.

              No shit?

              It is unlikely that any sane person is going to risk that

              Well no shit, sherlock. It turns out that criminals usually don't belong to the "sane" kind of people.
              Good grief. Please re-read your comments before actually submitting and pay close attention to whether what you're going to say makes any sense at all. Because this assertion about what sane people are not going to do is, apart from being completely obvious, utterly irrelevant to the question what insane people might do.

              Seriously.

              to gain access to your iPhone

              What does an iPhone have to do with anything?

              Do you also refuse to wear Nikes, because someone might cut your feet off to steal them?

              Stop. Please. Yo

          • No, it's really more like:

            1. Criminal wants to access fingerprint-based facility
            2. Criminal bashes hole in door, eliminating need for fingerprints

            The only reason you need the fingerprints is if you want to be able to enter surreptitously, which you're obviously not worried about once you get to the "cutting off people's fingers" stage.

            • by fisted ( 2295862 )

              Since fingerprint authorization is deployed in the name of security, I think it's reasonable to assume that those doors aren't as easy to punch a hole into; while obtaining a finger only requires a pair of pliers.

      • maybe I've seen too many movies, but for something that is locked down that tight, it sounds like 'bad guys' would really want to get in there.

        I need my fingers. I would have to have one cut off by a bad guy, so he could use my prints.

        might be very farfetched, but I'm not so sure I'd want to sign up for a security job that needed prints. in fact, it seems quite stupid for a security company to put its people at risk like this!

        My point is more that once the digital information representing your fingerprint is compromised that it is compromised forever and for every biometric authentication that uses a fingerprint.

    • Realistically, if someone wants my fingerprints, they'll get them. I leave them all over the place.

  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nerdflat. c o m> on Wednesday September 23, 2015 @01:18PM (#50584027) Journal

    .... only tell you who you can reasonably expect someone to be, but should not be relied on to tell you who somebody actually is.

    Relying on any so-called completely unique feature of every human being that may be currently impossible or at least extraordinarily difficult to replicate makes the implicit assumption that no technology could potentially invented that will make forging it possible or viable.

    • Fingerprints are pretty trivial to forge. Back in elementary school, we used to slack off by covering our fingertip, palm, etc. with Elmer's glue, letting it dry, and then peeling it off. Formed a surprisingly detailed 'negative' of the skin that it dried on. Since the glue was water based, you could then apply a layer of rubber cement to the 'negative' and get a sticky rubber 'positive' that you could wash the glue off.

      Obviously, the point of the exercise was not to evade biometrics, it was just somethi
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2015 @01:21PM (#50584055) Journal
    I demand that we vigorously close the barn door by implementing a robust biometric authentication infrastructure to prevent this from happening again!
  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2015 @01:24PM (#50584097)

    This same song-and-dance seems to play out with every big hack now:

    Week one:
    "It was just a few people who had some data limited compromised"

    Week two:
    It was just a few people who had most of their data compromised, but not their passwords

    Week three:
    "It was a lot of people, who had most of their data compromised, but not their passwords"

    Week four:
    "They got everything on everyone"

    • Except with OPM it's a lot more than just your credit card number and SSN-- for a lot of people it's their entire personal history that was collected in the process of getting a security clearance, which can include a *lot* of details, all nicely collected in one spot and verified. Including fingerprints...

      And that doesn't even address the possible issues that will come up if the hackers also wrote new information to the database so that what people self report may no longer match their history when it's t

  • NOT Stolen (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 23, 2015 @01:25PM (#50584129)

    This can't be stealing - the originals are still there !

    It's just that they made a copy of the data.

    --- RIAA

    • Prosecuting these hackers under the DMCA for stealing fingerprints would be like prosecuting a notorious gangster for, I don't know, tax evasion. It's ridiculous, and it would never happen.

  • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2015 @01:31PM (#50584219) Homepage
    The Chinese have my background investigative report and my fingerprints for my government job. Next they will be shutting down the government for no reason.
  • SF-86 forms (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OffTheLip ( 636691 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2015 @01:33PM (#50584241)
    Very detailed histories of a persons family, including SSN's, were part of the heist via Form SF-86. Being a longtime defense department contractor whose security clearance details were likely compromised I am pissed. The forms included personal info from friends gracious enough to vouch for my veracity as a trusted agent for the US government. We were expected to protect paper and electronic copies of this form as we would other sensitive data. The joke appears to be on us.
  • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2015 @01:34PM (#50584255)
    You can have my fingerprints when you pry them from my cold, dead.....oh.
  • No problem. Just revoke th... Oh.

  • by Ashenkase ( 2008188 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2015 @01:43PM (#50584349)
    Just reset your fingerprint, this time please use numbers, letters and other symbols.
  • Maybe I'm nuts.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TrimTabTim ( 2671411 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2015 @01:57PM (#50584495)
    ....but over the last years, I've started to really cheer in glee every time there's a horrible breach of sensitive data.

    Only after a percentage of people are thoroughly harmed and screwed by the escape of sensitive information, will the world realize that there simply is no sound way to keep secrets safe. It is a logical fallacy for one to think they can make a system that is perfectly secure as every measure has a countermeasure

    Therefore, the only option that will remain after a sufficient number of people get fleeced, fucked and flogged will be to never collect it in the first place. To collect it, is to invite evil-doers to an all you can eat buffet.

    So celebrate the evil blackhats of the world!! Huzzah! For us to see progress, they must steal their billions, destroy lives, maim murder and pillage! Sure, we technology buffs understand risks and speak loudly about the NSAs, Facebooks and all the other "user abusers" of the world. But we clever geeks can never convince the masses to change their ways because our message is inconvenient.

    No sir. Until enough good people are fucked, the assholes of the world will keep winning the minds of innocent fools with lies like "If you've done nothing wrong you should have nothing to hide". How about this one, "We collect your information in order to better serve you". Orwell is spinning in his grave.

    Ending my rant: Good people need encryption and privacy the most, but they won't realize this until they've been burned by fire. So burn baby burn.
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Re: simply is no sound way to keep secrets safe.
      The US gov and mil and all the Western mil's did a good job over many years. Encrypted, per site, no public net access.
      No great issues going back decades given the US had a great early start in advanced digital databases.
      At some point all the US data was placed on a network facing the 'internet' and the data was not encrypted.
      That gov/contractor need for a massive easy to read and use database was 'worth' more than a lot of secure encrypted files.
      Some
  • Good. I'm glad they were stolen. I hate opacity. I hope everything online gets stolen, even the stuff that was stolen should be stolen again.
  • by __roo ( 86767 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2015 @04:36PM (#50585491) Homepage

    How to fake fingerprints [wikihow.com], in case you want to know what to do with them.

  • by grep -v '.*' * ( 780312 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2015 @05:01PM (#50585667)
    So what? It's not the person, it's data ABOUT the person -- in other words, metadata.

    And everyone knows that metadata isn't real data; that's why the government is busy collecting so much of it.

    ------

    (Yes, I realize metadata would be where you actually found those fingerprints. But look-- soon you'll be able to find them everywhere!)

    ((And besides, I thought "privacy was dead, get over it."))
  • by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2015 @05:21PM (#50585787)

    >"OPM Says 5.6 million Fingerprints Stolen In Cyberattack"

    Which is why fingerprints and DNA should *NEVER* be given, taken, or stored as biometrics.

    Deep vein scan. THAT is the only reasonable biometric. It is of almost no value if stolen, can't be misused easily, isn't left all over the place like fingerprints and DNA, is quite unique, contains no sensitive information about the person, is very difficult to fake, can't be easily collected or read without the user's knowledge, is fast and easy to collect and also to use.

    • >"OPM Says 5.6 million Fingerprints Stolen In Cyberattack"

      Which is why fingerprints and DNA should *NEVER* be given, taken, or stored as biometrics.

      Deep vein scan. THAT is the only reasonable biometric. It is of almost no value if stolen, can't be misused easily, isn't left all over the place like fingerprints and DNA, is quite unique, contains no sensitive information about the person, is very difficult to fake, can't be easily collected or read without the user's knowledge, is fast and easy to collect and also to use.

      Any biometric signature that has been digitized can then be used as an attack on a secure system, granted not by the same input system.

      • >"Any biometric signature that has been digitized can then be used as an attack on a secure system, granted not by the same input system."

        Yes, but unlike fingerprints, you can't use the vein data to create a fake palm or arm to trick physical scanners. At least, not without a tremendous amount of effort and complexity...

        • >"Any biometric signature that has been digitized can then be used as an attack on a secure system, granted not by the same input system."

          Yes, but unlike fingerprints, you can't use the vein data to create a fake palm or arm to trick physical scanners. At least, not without a tremendous amount of effort and complexity...

          Agreed, that's why I said not the same input system. If you have digital access to the system at any point where you can 'input' the 'scan' data then the actual physical scan becomes unnecessary.

  • I was worried when I read this, but then I checked and I still have my fingerprints.

The following statement is not true. The previous statement is true.

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