Biometric security is supposed to be one of the best options for more secure accounts. Hackers have proven once again that nothing is 100% secure. Hackers trick facial recognition software by using a picture of your face. Their favorite source of images is currently Facebook.
Profile Pictures Aren’t Always Safe
Every social media site and many other websites want profile pictures. They bring your profile to life and add personality to your account. However, they’re not always safe.
Profile pictures often provide more information than you might think. They might include details about where you live or work. They may even include your children. All a hacker needs is your image and name to create fake accounts, even with your child’s name and image.
Another disturbing thought is how hackers trick facial recognition software from profile pictures. It sounds like science fiction, but it’s now a reality.
How Hackers Trick Facial Recognition
How many pictures do you currently have of yourself on Facebook? Most of your profile pictures are likely selfies or close-ups of your face. Unless your account is locked down tight, hackers can find your most current profile picture just by looking for your profile on Facebook.
In late 2016, the University of North Carolina presented an unsettling system at the Usenix security conference. The system involved using digital 3-D facial models that were created based around all those publicly posted photos on social media. By using virtual reality technology, the digital models fooled four out of five of the biometric security systems UNC tested.
Related Read: Oversharing on Facebook, Again?
Previous studies have always asked for participants to provide photos of themselves. This study asked for 20 volunteers. Researchers then collected images by using social media sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Through a few simple searches, researchers found 3 to 27 pictures of every volunteer.
The study not only proves that facial recognition security isn’t always the perfect option. It also reminds everyone of the dangers of posting information about yourself online, though you can’t always avoid it.
Securing Your Online Accounts
The truth is you can’t always control your photos online. Once you post them, they’re stored on servers. Even if you delete them, you don’t know who may have already shared them or downloaded their own copy to post later.
Luckily, there are some precautions you can take to secure your accounts and make them a little safer. Heimdal Security questioned security experts and got their top security tips, such as:
- Using unique passwords for every site and keeping track with a password manager
- Be careful of what you click on in emails and on websites
- Use two-factor authentication
- Verify all privacy and security settings on social media
- Avoid over-sharing
- Never think you’re unimportant to hackers
The same site even provides an in-depth guide to Facebook privacy settings, such as setting all your posts to Friends only, including past posts. You should also remove your account from public search so it’s not so easy for hackers to find your profile pictures.
While hackers trick facial recognition using publicly available images, you can protect yourself. Lock down your accounts so only your friends and professional contacts can see your posts and ask everyone to never share your photos or tag you in photos.
Contribution by Crystal Crowder
About the Author
Crystal lives and breathes tech. She’s spent over a decade writing tutorials, reviews, and more on tech, business, and lifestyle sites. Her idea of fun is settling down with the latest tech and gadget news.