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Potsdam fake finger detection company awaits big business after iPhone hacking


POTSDAM — Now that Apple’s iPhone 5S has been out a little over a month, business for NexID Biometrics, 65 Main St., Suite 2203, may start to increase.

The company develops and licenses fake finger detection software that determines whether the fingerprint being used is a live finger or a spoof—an important security measure for iPhone 5S users since the phone’s biometric lock system already has been hacked by fake fingerprint users.

“Over the coming months, I expect and feel very confident that we’ll probably double to triple our installed base of clients,” said Mark J. Cornett, chief operating officer for NexID Biometrics.

Since the iPhone 5S has introduced fingerprinting technology to the public, Mr. Cornett said, NexID is experiencing an increasing interest in its company.

“When Apple came out with the iPhone 5S, it was a landmark event in our industry,” he said. “All of a sudden, fingerprint sensors are in the mass market.”

Although the phone was just released mid-September, Mr. Cornett said, a group of German hackers successfully hacked the new iPhone’s finger sensor by lifting a print from one of the phones, making a spoof and unlocking the phone.

“Even though it was a great implementation, it really heightened the awareness that these things are easily fooled,” he said. “All of a sudden everyone wants to talk to us because we have a solution to that problem.”

The solution is the ability to determine when a “bad guy” is trying to fool a biometrics system.

With people using their phones to do banking, make purchases and store other confidential information, having a phone with a biometric system can be dangerous if you don’t also have the software to ensure its security, Mr. Cornett said.

“When the fingerprint scanner scans the finger and presents the image to the software that we write, that software is able to determine if that image came from a live finger or a finger with a spoof on top,” he said. “We’re training it to decipher between the two.”

The liveness-detection software company was launched in 2005 by Stephanie Schuckers, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Clarkson University, along with her husband, Michael E., and electrical engineer Bojan Cukic.

Since its beginning the company has grown into a notable business, thanks to Mr. Cornett, who became the chief operating officer in 2011.

Mr. Cornett said it usually sells its software to both system integrators and sensor manufacturers, one of which was just purchased by Apple for $356 million.

“We’d love to sell to Apple if they wanted to purchase our technology to protect the iPhone user from being spoofed,” he said.

Mr. Cornett said that when the increase in business takes off as expected, the company will need bigger lab space and more developers.

“As biometric technology finds its way into more and more devices, our company would really like to take our expertise into other modalities,” he said.

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