This Instructables article describes how to lift someone's fingerprint and turn it into a device to fool a fingerprint reader.

This Wikihow article does likewise.

This web page describes how a number of students carried out a similar hack.

Are these techniques possible?

  • @ghosts_in_the_code-Welcome to Skeptics.SE! Please provide a notable source for your claim and refer to the help section here skeptics.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic and more on asking here-meta.skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/1505/…. Jul 6, 2016 at 15:12
  • @pericles316 I'm not claiming it can be done; I'm only asking if it can be done. Otherwise I read the Wikipedia link in fingerprints; the answer wasn't that clear. So I'm only asking out of curiosity. Jul 6, 2016 at 15:17
  • As for source, there are various movies that show the same being done, but of course that is unreliable. Jul 6, 2016 at 15:21
  • @ghosts_in_the_code-There is no referrring to 'I' or curiosity for a claim here. Kindly refer to this FAQ-meta.skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/2506/… and link to a notable source (Examples include: books, newspapers, mainstream television, or widely-known web-sites including major blogs and Wikipedia) mirroring your claim. Jul 6, 2016 at 15:21
  • @pericles316 I've included a couple of them. Idk how official they are, I'll try looking for those also. Jul 6, 2016 at 15:26

1 Answer 1


Yes, replication/duplication of fingerprints has been demonstrated through the following methods.

a. Gelatin/Silicone: Description of the process is present here and it further describes turning a two dimensional print into a three dimensional mold.

In 2000 van der Putte and Keuning systematically studied a number of fingerprint scanners and concluded that they could not accurately differentiate real fingers from dummy fingers made from silicone and other materials. In 2002 Matsumoto et al.described procedures of making artificial fingers from gelatin molds. Their experimental results showed that fake fingers can fool all eleven tested fingerprint devices containing optical or capacitive sensors. Source: A Preliminary Study of Fake Fingerprints

b. From pictures taken with a standard photo camera: More details about the claim is present here and its english translation here.

A member of the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) hacker network claims to have cloned a thumbprint of a German politician by using commercial software and images taken at a news conference. Jan Krissler says he replicated the fingerprint of defence minister Ursula von der Leyen using pictures taken with a "standard photo camera". Mr Krissler had no physical print from Ms von der Leyen. Source: Politician's fingerprint 'cloned from photos' by hacker.

c. From surfaces where the fingerprints were left.

For duplication of a fingerprint without co-operation of its owner it is necessary to obtain a print of the finger from for example a glass or another surface. One of the best ways to obtain such a print could be the fingerprint scanner itself. If the scanner is cleaned before a person will be using it, an almost perfect print is left on the scanner surface since people tend to press their finger (which is the verification finger!) firmly on the scanner. Some more expertise is required to create a dummy from such a print, but every dental technician has the skills and equipment to create one. Source: Biometrical Fingerprint Recognition Don't Get Your Fingers Burned

First, the residual fingerprint from the phone is either photographed or scanned with a flatbed scanner at 2400 dpi. Then the image is converted to black & white, inverted and mirrored. This image is then printed onto transparent sheet at 1200 dpi. To create the mold, the mask is then used to expose the fingerprint structure on photo-senistive PCB material. The PCB material is then developed, etched and cleaned. After this process, the mold is ready. A thin coat of graphite spray is applied to ensure an improved capacitive response. This also makes it easier to remove the fake fingerprint. Finally a thin film of white wood glue is smeared into the mold. After the glue cures the new fake fingerprint is ready for use. Source:Chaos Computer Club breaks Apple TouchID

d. 2D printed Fingerprints.

In summary, we have proposed a simple, fast and effective method to generate 2D fingerprint spoofs that can successfully hack built-in fingerprint authentication in mobile phones. Furthermore, hackers can easily generate a large number of spoofs using fingerprint reconstruction or synthesis techniques which is easier than 2.5D fingerprint spoofs. This experiment further confirms the urgent need for antispoofing techniques for fingerprint recognition systems, especially for mobile devices which are being increasingly used for unlocking the phone and for payment. It should be noted that not all the mobile phones can be hacked using proposed method. Source: Hacking Mobile Phones Using 2D Printed Fingerprints

There are also artificial alterations to evade biometric detection which are changes made to one's own fingers.

Altered fingerprints, however, are real fingers that are used to conceal one’s identity in order to evade identification by a biometric system. While fake fingers are typically used by individuals to adopt another person’s identity, altered fingers are used to mask one’s own identity. Source: Altered Fingerprints: Analysis and Detection

  • So I guess a piece of tape Hollywood style isn't practical. Damn
    – Insane
    Jul 7, 2016 at 1:19

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