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NYU Indian American researchers say, smartphone fingerprint scanners can be breached

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From left: Aditi Roy, Nasir Memon and Arun Ross.
The research, funded by the National Science Foundation, was a collaboration between researchers from the New York University Tandon School of Engineering and the Michigan State University College of Engineering.

NEW YORK (Diya TV) — In a recent study titled MasterPrint: Exploring the Vulnerability of Partial Fingerprint-based Authentication Systems, which appeared in IEEE Transactions on Information Forensics & Security last month, a trio of Indian-American researchers led by NYU Tandon School of Engineering professor Nasir Memon revealed the fingerprint-based security systems used in smartphones and other gadgets are a lot more vulnerable than we imagined.

The study first began when Memon dug into Apple’s identity-authentication software patent, which uses partial fingerprints instead of a full fingerprint.

According to the study, that’s where the system is most vulnerable to penetration: “They scan and store partial fingerprints, and many phones allow users to enroll several different fingers in their authentication system. Identity is confirmed when a user’s fingerprint matches any one of the saved partial prints,” it read. The researchers found that it was possible to have enough similarities among different people’s partial prints that one could create a ‘MasterPrint’ — one that could unlock multiple phones.

Aditi Roy, a NYU Tandon postdoctoral fellow and lead author of the paper, told Rediff.com, “As more and more financial transactions — for example, mobile banking and credit card payment — are conducted on fingerprint-enabled devices such as smartphones, issues related to identity theft and malicious access can lead to unprecedented financial damages.

“Vulnerabilities of fingerprint-based authentication systems can undermine the public’s faith in using biometric solutions. So, we wanted to perform a detailed security analysis of such systems that employ small sensors.”

And according to Roy, “the more partial fingerprints a given smartphone stores for each user, the more vulnerable it is.” As Memon explained to The New York Times, “it’s as if you have 30 passwords and the attacker only has to match one.”

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Impact commits $10M to supporting Indian American candidates

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WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Indian American IMPACT, a political organization working to put Indian Americans in public office, announced a new $10 million commitment to support Indian American candidates nationwide. They also announced public interest lawyer Neil Makhija will be IMPACT’s new Executive Director. The number of Indian Americans in Congress has grown five-fold in just the past eight years.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr faced questioning by the House Judiciary Committee about the use of force against Black Lives Matter protesters in recent weeks and the Trump administration’s handling of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We’ll show the clash between Congressmember Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Barr that’s making headlines.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged YouPlus, a Silicon Valley startup, and its CEO Shaukat Shamim with defrauding investors by making false and misleading statements about the company’s finances. The complaint states Shamim told investors YouPlus earned millions of dollars in annual revenue and had more than 100 customers, including Fortune 500 companies. But the scheme dissolved when Shamim is said to have told certain investors YouPlus had earned less than $500,000 and obtained only four paying customers since the company’s 2013 inception.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Feds arrest entrepreneur Mukund Mohan for PPP fraud

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SEATTLE (Diya TV) — U.S. attorneys arrested serial Indian American entrepreneur Mukund Mohan on charges of allegedly defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program with fake and altered documents and embezzling more than $5.5 million in COVID-19 relief funds through six shell companies. Mukund Mohan was a former Microsoft and Amazon executive and is currently the CTO of BuildDirect.

Shahid Buttar, who is running for Congress in San Francisco against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is being accused of sexual harassment by comedienne Elizabeth Croydon. Buttar said Croydon’s charges are false.

Apple manufacturer Foxconn has started building iPhone 11 units in a facility near Chennai in India. It’s the first time Apple has made one of its top-tier phones in India. India is the second-biggest smartphone market in the world, second only to China.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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India & China slowly move towards disengagement

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NEW DELHI (Diya TV) — India and China held virtual talks and agreed on a complete disengagement of troops along the line of control. But there remains sticking points in multiple areas along the border. India insists bilateral relations will not improve until “full peace and tranquility” are restored.

Police in Schenectady, New York are facing major scrutiny after footage was released of one of their officers applying a neck hold to 31 year old Yugeshwar Gaindarpersaud. He was treated and released, but he continues to face two charges of running away and resisting arrest. He’s accused of slashing his neighbors tire, causing $200 of damage. His attorneys are fighting to get prosecutors to drop the charges.

The UK Parliamentary Group, which visited Pakistan Administered Kashmir, and heavily criticized the Indian government for their recent constitutional change applying to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, acknowledged they received nearly $18,000 from the Pakistan Government to make the trip.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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