• PrivacyProtecting privacy in genomic databases

    By Larry Hardesty

    Genome-wide association studies, which try to find correlations between particular genetic variations and disease diagnoses, are a staple of modern medical research. But because they depend on databases that contain people’s medical histories, they carry privacy risks. An attacker armed with genetic information about someone — from, say, a skin sample — could query a database for that person’s medical data. Researchers describe a new system that permits database queries for genome-wide association studies but reduces the chances of privacy compromises to almost zero.

  • ForensicsAccessing a murder victim’s fingerprint-protected smartphone to help solve a crime

    Last month, when the Michigan State University Police Department approached professor Anil Jain to see if he could access a fingerprint-locked deceased man’s smartphone to aid in a police investigation, Jain accepted the scientific challenge. On Monday, 25vJuly, it was mission accomplished – Jain and his team unlocked the phone.

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  • ForensicsSeparating the DNA of identical twins

    Since its first use in the 1980s — a breakthrough dramatized in recent ITV series “Code of a Killer” — DNA profiling has been a vital tool for forensic investigators. Now researchers at the University of Huddersfield have solved one of its few limitations by successfully testing a technique for distinguishing between the DNA — or genetic fingerprint — of identical twins.

  • BiometricsHow well do facial recognition algorithms cope with a million faces?

    In the last few years, several groups have announced that their facial recognition systems have achieved near-perfect accuracy rates, performing better than humans at picking the same face out of the crowd. But those tests were performed on a dataset with only 13,000 images — fewer people than attend an average professional U.S. soccer game. What happens to their performance as those crowds grow to the size of a major U.S. city? Researchers answered that question with the MegaFace Challenge, the world’s first competition aimed at evaluating and improving the performance of face recognition algorithms at the million person scale.

  • BiometricsCBP issues long-anticipated Biometric Exit Program RFI

    Last Monday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued its highly-anticipated call to industry to share solutions for the Biometric Exit Program. The Request for Information (RFI), issued by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), explains that CBP intends to add biometrics to confirm when foreign nationals are departing the United States, in order to deter visa overstays, to identify criminals, and to defeat imposters.

  • Facial recognitionThe accuracy of the FBI’s face-recognition technology may be improved: GAO

    The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) operates the Next Generation Identification-Interstate Photo System (NGI-IPS) — a face recognition service that allows law enforcement agencies to search a database of over thirty million photos to support criminal investigations. The GAO examined the FBI’s face recognition capabilities, and the extent to which the FBI’s use of face recognition adhered to privacy laws and policies, and the accuracy of these capabilities.

  • BiometricsTerrorist or criminal? New software uses face analysis to find out

    Pulling a poker face means betraying no visible emotion, so that opponents cannot tell what you are really thinking. But a Tel Aviv startup’s face-profiling technology recently proved fairly accurate at predicting which four players were most likely to beat out forty-six other contenders in an amateur poker tournament. The company say that its technology, which analyzes faces shown in photos and videos and classifies them according to fifteen parameters predictive of personality traits and types, can help identify terrorists.

  • European securityEU backs visa-free travel for Turkish citizens to EU zone

    The European Commission has recommended visa-free travel in Europe for Turkish citizens. Turkey still has to meet some of the seventy-two conditions set by the EU. The deal must be approved by the parliaments of all of the EU twenty-eight member states before the 30 June deadline. The lifting of visa requirements for Turkey’s eighty million citizens has been a subject of intense debate among EU member states. Turkey threatened that if the EU and its member states failed to approve the visa deal, Turkey would withdrew from the refugee agreement it had reached with the EU in March.

  • ForensicsHair analysis is flawed as a forensic technique

    Since 1989, seventy-four people who were convicted of serious crimes, in large part due to microscopic hair comparisons, were later exonerated by post-conviction DNA analysis. A new article highlights the statistical failings of microscopic hair analysis in criminal investigations, noting that more than twenty characteristics can be used to describe or identify a single hair, but many are subjective.

  • ImmigrationEl Paso doesn't want ID as "sanctuary city"

    By Julián Aguilar

    An El Paso-based immigrant rights group could see its hopes for a municipal ID card dashed after leaders there determined that issuing the card might prompt immigration hardliners to label the town a “sanctuary city.”

  • E-VerifyTexas’s E-Verify law operating under honor system

    By Julián Aguilar

    After former Gov. Rick Perry issued an executive order in December 2014 mandating the use of E-Verify for state agencies, some lawmakers noted the directive lacked a mechanism to ensure compliance. But more than nine months after Gov. Greg Abbott signed a separate E-Verify bill, some of those gaps still exist.

  • TerrorismU.K. to destroy biometric information of 45 terror suspects due to botched paperwork

    British security agencies will have to destroy fingerprints and DNA of forty-five terror suspects because the police retained the biometric samples longer than the law allows. The law does allow the police to keep biometric information of terrorism suspects indefinitely, but certain paperwork must be completed within a certain period of time to allow that, and if the paperwork is not completed, the samples must be destroyed. A new report reveals that Britain holds biometric information and materials on nearly 8,000 suspects.

  • AuthenticationSelfies could replace security passwords – but only with an upgrade

    By Ian McLoughlin

    The next time you do some online shopping or call your bank, you may find you no longer have to scrabble around to remember your security password. Banks are increasingly turning to voice recognition technology as their preferred way of ensuring customers are who they say they are when they use telephone banking services. But does this kind of technology really mean that you’ll soon be able to just forget your passwords? The short answer right now is “no.”

  • ForensicsForensics close in on footwear analysis

    First it was your fingerprint that gave the game away and then DNA analysis transformed forensic science. But “watch your step” because experts have developed a new technique which could lead to a step change in forensic footwear imaging. The experts have been able to extract additional information and create a digital picture of the personal footprint we leave behind when we stand or walk on a hard surface.

  • AuthenticationVulnerability found in in two-factor authentication

    Two-factor authentication is a computer security measure used by major online service providers to protect the identify of users in the event of a password loss. Security experts have long endorsed two-factor authentication as an effective safeguard against password attacks. But what if two-factor authentication could be cracked not by computer engineering but by social engineering?