How New Tech Knows If a Fingerprint Is ‘Alive’

“It’s a classic, if gruesome, staple of Hollywood action movies. The villain, desperate to gain access to the secret government vault, tricks the biometric security system by opening the door with the severed finger — or dangling eyeball — of the security guard.

In the real world, fake fingerprints and other forms of biometric spoofing pose serious challenges to the security community. Just this week, a team of Japanese researchers proved how easy it is to copy someone’s fingerprints from a “peace” sign selfie. A few years back, a hacker scanned the fingerprints of the German defense minister using a publically available press photo. The same hacker once fashioned a fake thumb out of wood glue to fool Apple’s Touch ID sensor.

But before you toss your new iPhone out the window or put on gloves every time you take a selfie, you might want to hear about a new technology that can tell if a biometric image like a fingerprint or an iris scan is really “alive.”

Matthew Valenti is the West Virginia University site director for the Center for Identification Technology Research, a multi-institution collaboration that has developed and patented anti-spoofing technology based on something called liveness detection.

“There are subtle features that are only present in a living person,” Valenti told Seeker. “Your fingers, for example, have tiny pores in them, and the signal processing algorithms used to scan your fingerprint can look for the presence of sweat in your pores. A spoof wouldn’t have that.”

Valenti’s colleague Stephanie Schuckers at Clarkson University is a pioneering researcher in liveness detection. She has tested her perspiration algorithms against fake fingers made out of wax and Play-Doh, and also a few dozen cadaver fingers from the morgue. Schuckers’ algorithms are the core technology behind NexID Biometrics, a private company claiming that its software can spot a fake fingerprint with 94 percent to 98 percent accuracy.

Still, liveness detection is so new that you won’t even find it on the latest biometric gadgets like the new MacBook Pro. So should we be concerned that hackers and identity thieves are scouring Instagram looking for fingerprints to steal?”

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Give yourself a holiday gift: TSA PreCheck

“There are few things in life sweeter than alighting at the airport, scanning the grim-faced travelers in the regular TSA line — doffing shoes, belts and light jackets, yanking laptops out of suitcases — and then skipping past them to the expedited TSA PreCheck line. No elaborate undressing or unpacking rituals in PreCheck. A swift pass through a metal detector, and you’re at the gate in plenty of time for the flight.

Even so, millions of Americans haven’t applied for PreCheck. Why not? The usual lame excuses: Procrastination. No time to fill out the forms. Where’s the processing center again? And that $85 fee.

Now a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign study suggests a new way to coax more people to sign up for expedited security screening: Waive the $85 fee. Make it free for frequent fliers (an average of 12 screenings or six round-trips a year).

That would save the government $34 million a year, according to the study by U. of I. computer science professor Sheldon Jacobson, along with graduate students Arash Khatibi and Ge Yu.”

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Chalice Zeitner Sentenced to More than 25 Years in Prison

Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced today a judge sentenced Chalice Zeitner to more than 25 years in prison after Zeitner faked cancer to qualify for a taxpayer funded abortion and scammed veterans charities out of more than $15,000. Zeitner was convicted of 17 felonies at two separate trials. The Attorney General’s Office prosecuted this case after an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Phoenix Field Office and AHCCCS.

“Zeitner is a con-artist who brazenly stole money from veterans and the taxpayers of Arizona,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “Our office has built a strong partnership with the FBI to investigate and prosecute complex fraud cases like Zeitner’s and seek justice for the victims.”

“The crimes for which Ms. Zeitner has been convicted are particularly offensive, from defrauding veterans’ charities to faking cancer in order to receive a government-funded, late-term abortion. The FBI is committed to protecting the public from frauds and is well-situated to investigate frauds occurring in multiple states and jurisdictions,” said Special Agent in Charge Michael DeLeon. “I would like to thank Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich for dedicating the resources necessary to prosecute Ms. Zeitner.”

In April 2016, a jury convicted Zeitner of fraud and other charges for faking a cancer diagnosis to get the state to pay for a late-term abortion. In August 2016 after a separate trial, a jury convicted Zeitner of Fraudulent Schemes and Artifices and Theft for scamming veterans charities out of $15,000 and charging more than $25,000 to a fraudulently obtained credit card associated with a family member of an owner of a veterans charity.”

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Marijuana Smokes the Competition, Pulls in Key Victories on Election Night

“Marijuana was on the ballot in nine states Tuesday, gaining sometimes-sweeping approval in all but one.

California, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine all approved measures legalizing the recreational use of the Schedule I drug, while Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota voted to allow cannabis for medical purposes only. Arizona was the lone holdout, with 52 percent of voters rejecting the recreational use legalization measure. Additionally, while Montana already had a medical marijuana law, voters decided to roll back restrictions on that law.

The recreational use of cannabis is now legal in eight states, which are home to almost a quarter of the nation’s overall population. Cannabis for medical use is now legal in 25 states and the District.

Activists are pointing to marijuana’s triumph in this election as a turning point for the drug, which is federally classified as Schedule I, indicative of the “most dangerous” label, alongside heroin and LSD. For one, California is the most populous state in the country; and Massachusetts puts the east coast on the board.

The Associated Press said, collectively, it was the closest the U.S. has ever come to a national referendum on marijuana. Under President Barack Obama, individual states have been afforded the opportunity to go forward with their own legalization measures, despite the ban on cannabis at the federal level. However, that could all change when President-Elect Donald Trump enters the office in January 2017. This could all quickly go south for marijuana activists depending who Trump appoints to his cabinet, as well as his own personal feelings on the drug. He has flip-flopped in the past, saying he supports state’s rights to choose, but also calling Colorado’s legal marijuana industry a problem.”

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Plastic banknotes: new fingerprint technique means criminals can’t avoid capture

“The UK has just introduced plastic banknotes, almost 30 years after they were used for the first time in Australia. The polymer notes are designed to last longer and be harder to forge. But the new notes, which will replace the old cotton paper ones entirely by 2020, come with a challenge for police detectives and forensic scientists.

The existing techniques for obtaining fingerprints from paper notes won’t necessarily work for the new plastic money. However, our team at the chemistry department of Loughborough University has developed a potential solution.

The use of fingerprints in forensic science may date back to the 19th century, but in the UK alone it still plays a key role in bringing charges in some 27,000 crimes a year, according to Home Office data we obtained. But new materials can pose significant challenges for fingerprinting. We’re forever trying to make things biodegradable, or handling devices that simply didn’t exist a decade or two ago.

The issue is that the new notes have been fashioned from “biaxially oriented” polypropylene, a type of plastic that has been strengthened by stretching it in two directions. They are also, as with all notes, deliberately fiddly in design. Illustrations and security features such as foil and transparent sections make it harder to develop a perfect print.

The key is to try to find a method that will make the design of the note invisible and just highlight the print. Conventional techniques, such as exposing the fingerprint to cyanoacrylate (“superglue”) fumes that stick to the moisture in the ridges of the print and turn them white, can struggle in such circumstances. The developed print simply appears white and so is harder to see against the background, and it leaves an indelible mark or stain that means the note can’t be returned to circulation.”

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Airlines say TSA fixes shrink O’Hare wait times to 15 minutes

Security lines at O’Hare International Airport have become dramatically shorter — at least for the time being — in the wake of TSA staff increases locally and this week’s ouster of the agency’s head of security.

One airline official said Tuesday that waits were down to 15 minutes at O’Hare after the Transportation Security Administration faced heavy criticism last week for long lines at the nation’s airports. Waits of more than two hours May 14 at O’Hare caused 450 people to miss their flights and dozens to sleep overnight at the airport.

TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger came Friday to Chicago to meet with local officials and expressed regret for the problem, which the agency has blamed on a staffing shortage combined with higher passenger numbers. TSA moved 100 part-time officers at Chicago airports to full-time status last week and brought in a new management team and four new canine units, which TSA officials say helped speed lines by sniffing passengers for explosives.

Another 58 TSA officers are expected to come to Chicago airports in the coming month.

This week, the TSA replaced its former head of security, Kelly Hoggan, who according to the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform received more than $90,000 in bonuses from 2013 to late 2014.

A memo obtained by the Chicago Tribune sent by Neffenger on Monday does not name Hoggan, but does name his temporary replacement, Darby LaJoye. Neffenger called LaJoye an experienced federal security director with successful stints at two of the nation’s largest airports, Los Angeles International Airport in California and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

“His strong leadership and proven operational expertise have driven a renewed agency-wide focus on security effectiveness,” Neffenger said.

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Avoid Long Airport Lines, Queue Up At Your Local TSA ‘Precheck’ Office

(CBS) — With the long lines at airports dominating the news, there is now a rush to sign up for the federal service that can move you more quickly through the crowds.

But as CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports, you may need some patience to sign up for TSA “Precheck.”

There was a constant flow of traffic Monday at the TSA’s Precheck office in Chicago’s Avondale neighborhood. More than half said they were walk-ins.

One woman said reports of log jams at O’Hare spurred her to come in, ahead of a trip later this spring.

Mid-June is the earliest appointment if you book online, because of the rush to sign up for TSA Precheck, by those who either saw or experienced the horrors of long lines at Midway and O’Hare.

Signing up means you could avoid the long lines. For $85, you get your fingerprints taken – and a TSA number that gets you a coveted checkmark on your boarding pass.

You then get to move more quickly through airports to catch your flight.

But to get the precious pass, be prepared to wait.

TSA Precheck means not only do you avoid those long lines, but you can also keep your shoes and jacket on and leave three-ounce liquids and laptops in your bag.

The $85 fee covers a five-year subscription.

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NY’s Security-Guard Industry Grows Amid Lax Oversight

“TV and movies tell us security guards are bumbling fat idiots. They are the butt of a joke. Falling asleep with their feet up, they never pay attention to those security camera monitors while burglars steal gold or priceless paintings or stacks of cash. They’re easily distracted, easily gagged and tied up and — as in Die Hard or The Matrix or countless other action films — easily killed.

In real life, they work long, boring hours strolling the halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, waving metal detectors at Mets games, printing sticky visitor passes at commercial buildings, checking IDs at concerts, standing for hours and hours on end at public landmarks, department stores, colleges, pharmacies.

There are more than two times as many security guards than police officers in New York state and roughly 10 times as many guards as firefighters. While a lot of kids grow up itching to join the NYPD or the fire department, it’s hard to find someone who said they wanted to be a security guard when they grew up.

The guard who patrols a corporate plaza with an H&R Block and Chase Bank in Midtown wants to be a train conductor. The guard scanning IDs at a commercial office building near Grand Central dreams of a career as a stand-up comedian. The guard who works at a Duane Reade in the Upper West Side hopes to be a cop. The older guards who aren’t retired police officers, when asked what they think of a career in security, will shrug, as if to say, “It’s a job. It pays the rent.”

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State panel to evaluate eligibility for 15 new conditions for medical marijuana

A doctor who leads the Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board says she’s not optimistic about the chances of expanding the state’s marijuana program based on previous decisions by Gov. Rauner’s administration.

Board chair Dr. Leslie Mendoza Temple says the advisory board is moving forward and evaluating the 15 health conditions on its agenda. The advisory board is meeting Monday in Springfield.

The meeting could lead to new recommendations from the expert panel. But Rauner’s administration has twice before rejected the board’s suggestions.

Among the new ailments to be considered Monday by the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board are Lyme disease, panic disorders, persistent depressive disorder, and MRSA, a drug-resistant staph infection.

The meeting could lead to new recommendations from the expert panel. But Rauner’s administration has twice before rejected the board’s suggestions.

Among the new ailments to be considered Monday by the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board are Lyme disease, panic disorders, persistent depressive disorder, and MRSA, a drug-resistant staph infection.

Supporters want the med pot program broadened to include painful conditions that don’t respond to conventional treatment, saying the benefits outweigh the risks. But Rauner has called for conservative steps in increasing access to marijuana.

Currently, 39 conditions and diseases can qualify a patient to use medical marijuana in Illinois. The state’s medical marijuana law allows people to suggest new diseases for the program twice annually.

The board, which is made up of doctors, nurses, patients and advocates, has only an advisory role. And Rauner has rejected previous recommendations to expand access, including an effort by veterans that would allow those with post traumatic stress disorder to use medical marijuana.

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TSA SECURITY WAIT TIMES INCREASING AT O’HARE

CHICAGO (WLS) — Some spring break travelers are learning the hard way that getting through airport security is taking longer than ever.

United warned customers they could stand in line for up to two hours. And American Airlines is publicly criticizing the Transportation Safety Administration for lines that cause passengers to miss flights.

People as far as the eye can see. There’s a line just to get into the line for the security maze at O’Hare.

“This feels like I’m in Disney World!” traveler Rich Frantz laughed.

People are now taking to Twitter and other social media sights to vent.

“The TSA line at Terminal 3 at O’Hare for American Air outside of the roped off lines. EVERYONE will miss their flight,” Stephanie Pratt posted.

The airlines are taking notice.

“The TSA has a duty to screen passengers and bags in an efficient manner, and that’s not being done right now,” said Leslie Scott, American Airlines spokesperson.

During the morning and late afternoon rush, American says wait times have reached an hour and a half at O’Hare.

One recent week saw more than 300 American customers miss their flights due to security delays. The TSA doesn’t release wait times at specific airports.

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