Japanese scientists have copied fingerprint data from a picture of a person flashing a peace sign
Professor Isao Echizen from Japan's National Institute of Informatics, said: "One can use it to assume another identity, such as accessing a smartphone or breaking and entering into a restricted area such as an apartment."
Flashing a two-finger peace sign is very common among Japanese when posing for a photo.
Echizen and fellow researcher Tateo Ogane reproduced an experiment on Friday in which they extracted Echizen's fingerprints from a digital photograph taken at a distance of almost 10ft.
The high-resolution photograph was taken with a 135-mm lens mounted on a digital SLR camera.
Flashing a two-fingered ‘V’ or peace sign is sparking fears about a new way of stealing people’s ID
One can use it to assume another identity
Professor Isao Echizen
Fingerprint scanners have found their way into mobile phones, laptops, external hard drives and electronic wallets as an alternative to authentication using passwords or personal identification numbers (PINs).
NTT Docomo, Japan's biggest mobile carrier, said it had not received any reports of misuse of fingerprint data on customers' devices.
Spokesman Yasutaka Imai said: "Fingerprint authentication is used for many purposes, including smartphones, and each manufacturer decides how the authentication process is maintained.
"We'll continue to monitor the situation carefully".