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Altered Fingerprints: Analysis and Detection

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3 Author(s)
Soweon Yoon ; Dept. of Comput. Sci. & Eng., Michigan State Univ., East Lansing, MI, USA ; Jianjiang Feng ; Jain, A.K.

The widespread deployment of Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems (AFIS) in law enforcement and border control applications has heightened the need for ensuring that these systems are not compromised. While several issues related to fingerprint system security have been investigated, including the use of fake fingerprints for masquerading identity, the problem of fingerprint alteration or obfuscation has received very little attention. Fingerprint obfuscation refers to the deliberate alteration of the fingerprint pattern by an individual for the purpose of masking his identity. Several cases of fingerprint obfuscation have been reported in the press. Fingerprint image quality assessment software (e.g., NFIQ) cannot always detect altered fingerprints since the implicit image quality due to alteration may not change significantly. The main contributions of this paper are: 1) compiling case studies of incidents where individuals were found to have altered their fingerprints for circumventing AFIS, 2) investigating the impact of fingerprint alteration on the accuracy of a commercial fingerprint matcher, 3) classifying the alterations into three major categories and suggesting possible countermeasures, 4) developing a technique to automatically detect altered fingerprints based on analyzing orientation field and minutiae distribution, and 5) evaluating the proposed technique and the NFIQ algorithm on a large database of altered fingerprints provided by a law enforcement agency. Experimental results show the feasibility of the proposed approach in detecting altered fingerprints and highlight the need to further pursue this problem.

Published in:

Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:34 ,  Issue: 3 )
Biometrics Compendium, IEEE