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Hacking Big Brother With Help From Revlon

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the better-option-than-back-alley-eye-transplants dept.

Privacy 71

skids writes "All those futuristic full-face eyeliner jobs in dystopian cyberpunk fiction might not be that far off the mark. A New York University student spent his thesis time exploring computer vision technology (OpenCV) for ways in which one could confound first-stage algorithms that initially lock onto faces. Then he mixed in a bit of fashion sense to predict future geek chic. Now, whether you want to go for the coal-miner look just to stay out of the data mine, that's up to you."

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71 comments

"Coal-miner look"? (2, Interesting)

gront (594175) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961702)

No, if you read TFA, its more of a mad-max bad 80s thunderdome / ww1 dazzle / ranger camouflage than blackface or a football player's mascara.

A pirate patch? (4, Funny)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961988)

Seems to me an aeasthetic patch covering one eye could work just as well - if not better. Plus it's relativelly less conspicuous (especially for a man)...and you might always need some medical procedure requiring later covering of one eye, right?

PS. Harrrr!

Re:A pirate patch? (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962026)

Offtopic reply.... (0, Offtopic)

rts008 (812749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31965470)

*continuing offtopic*
Thanks for that link!
I think I have found my retirement plan. :-)

Idaho? Well, that's okay, since I like potatoes.

My original plan was:
1. grow up (I was 8-10 years old)
2. ??*get assloads of money*???
3. buy Montana, and move into the middle of it.

Oh yeah, since this is /. ...
4. PROFIT!!!!!
*end offtopic reply*

Wow! Dugout Dick's face is truly one that 'only a mother could love', but his spirit I find purely beautiful.
'Long live the spirit of Dugout Dick!!!'

Again, thanks!...I had no idea.....

Besides, Montana is getting too crowded, Alaska is too cold, and the '2.' [above] has not worked as well as planned...and I have turned into Max Goldman [imdb.com] *sigh*

Re:A pirate patch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31967024)

Don't forget to switch which eye is covered every day.

Re:A pirate patch? (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 4 years ago | (#31968278)

Another plus is that the patch could be switched and worn on different eyes on different days and it doesn't hinder the wearing of additional disguise pieces such as a hat, glasses, wig or false mustache or beard. For example, the CIA probably has some pretty neat field disguise kits and they probably include the items mentioned above (among other pieces).

Re:A pirate patch? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986208)

Even better: One-eyed sunglasses! You can still look trough. And I could imagine that becoming a fashion.

Re:"Coal-miner look"? (1)

grumling (94709) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964348)

My first thought was that Pris wasn't just trying to look good for Sebastian, she was trying to avoid detection.

Soulskill trying to meet his quota? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31961712)

Stories every 20 minutes? Sheesh, kids these days.

Re:Soulskill trying to meet his quota? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962190)

Together with the summary (mentioning "coal-miner look") - an interesting throwback to the era of socrealism in my post Soviet Block place; fixed by Moscow also on coal, where every respectable miner should do at least 200% of the norm.

really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31961782)

surely the viola-jones technique he claims to have thwarted can still be used if you specifically train a cascade on faces with these markings on them?

Re:really? (4, Insightful)

Jmanamj (1077749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961824)

The point is, there's an endless variation of disguises you can use to thwart the software as long as certain programed traits it looks for (darkness above eyes/lighter nose and cheekbones/symmetry) are thrown off by face markings and hairstyles. I think this would be cooler with glowing phosphorescent paint, but I think the point is to blend in so the software doesnt look too closely at you.

Re:really? (1)

Peach Rings (1782482) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962104)

Moving spots of high contrast (reflections off light skin against the dark makeup) would be even easier to detect though.

This just breaks one algorithm currently in use. If it actually became "geek chic" then they'd change the algorithm.

Re:really? (1)

migla (1099771) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962520)

And then geek chic would adapt.

Re:really? (2)

publiclurker (952615) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962544)

Do any of these cameras use infrared lighting? If so, you could come up with makeup that is normally invisible, but shows up just enough on the cameras to fool them.

Re:really? (4, Interesting)

EdZ (755139) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962648)

I wonder how common nIR graffiti is? It would be visible in 'night vision' CCTV cameras, and often to regular CCD and CMOS cameras with poor filters, but invisible to the naked eye.

In fact, it's incredibly easy to swap the nIR blocking filter in a cheap camera for an IR-pass/optically opaque filter. Leaving invisible notes for people could be pretty fun.

Re:really? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31965524)

So in other words, to avoid detection everyone should wear a Rorschach mask?

Hack the Gibson (2)

iSzabo (1392353) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961788)

So this stuff I've been wearing serves a purpose? Cool!

Re:Hack the Gibson (4, Insightful)

kaizokuace (1082079) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961880)

one step closer to living in the world of Hackers. Just gotta find my old roller blades now...

Reverse Engineering? (4, Funny)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961808)

Harvey's research involves the reverse engineering of OpenCV, which its creators describe as an open-source "library of programming functions for real-time computer vision."

Oh the reg whatever shall we do with you...

Re:Reverse Engineering? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31962294)

I'm telling you, Burkas are the ultimate in future privacy garb. Everyone should wear 'em.

Re: Reverse Engineering? (1)

D4C5CE (578304) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964772)

It gets better yet:

Harvey's research involves the reverse engineering of OpenCV, which its creators describe as an open-source "library of programming functions for real-time computer vision." From that work, he developed an understanding of the algorithm

Sounds like a marketdroid's take at just saying: "He pulled off the truly amazing feat of downloading and looking at someone else's unobfuscated, well-documented open source code." ;-)

The sad thing (not least for the graduate himself) is that there was little room left for El Reg et al. to report on the actual research after shrouding the obvious in such over-the-top unwarranted mystery and mumbo-jumbo.

Coal-miner look against Data-mining (1)

Bugamn (1769722) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961886)

So, if I don't want them to mine my data, I should mine some coal?

Well, if you leverage the Synergy of.... (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31965540)

GHAAAHH!!!!

I can't keep a straight face or my sanity with that line.

Okay n00b[1], here's how it works:

1. There will soon be an 'App for that'
2. Some start-up will sell you a virtual coal mine.
3. It will be incorporated into Google Earth/Maps.
4. ???????
5. Profit!!!!

[1] You must be new here!

God of War and Privacy (4, Funny)

jeko (179919) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961916)

Kratos laughs at your facial recognition software.

Weird Title (5, Insightful)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 4 years ago | (#31961926)

There's no hacking involved, and the word hacking wasn't even necessary for sensationalism's sake. Seriously, I know people write misleading headlines to get eyeballs, but a perfectly accurate title could have been just as enticing: how about "Evading Big Brother with Help from Revlon?" Isn't evading about as interesting as hacking, Big Brother-wise?

Even when they could be honest, accurate, and interesting the Slashdot editors simply don't bother. Why?

Re:Weird Title (2, Funny)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962046)

Now, I didn't RTFA or RTFS, but I did RTFH, and I'm pretty sure this story is about using lipstick to write an SQL injection attack directly across your face. I mean, duh.

Why don't you try to RTFH sometime?

Re:Weird Title (1)

adbge (1693228) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962130)

Even when they could be honest, accurate, and interesting the Slashdot editors simply don't bother. Why?

I think the fault lies with TFA and its liberal usage of the word hacking. To be fair, I don't think it's the Soulskill's responsibility to rewrite the article in a more accurate manner, but a case could be made that such an article should never have been posted in the first place.

Re:Weird Title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31962186)

Well...he did still have to read the article and invent his own headline, presumably, so isn't the ball back in his court either way on ensuring some sort of accuracy?

Re:Weird Title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31963174)

Give the guy some credit. He's such a 1337 hacker that he reverse engineers open source programs. Just reading the code would be beneath him.

nobody owns words (0, Flamebait)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964110)

and words shift in meaning all the time. the way they spoke in 1960, 1910, 1860... the meanings of words you use today as they were in 1960, 1910, 1860... its completely fluid and outside of anyone's control

so why do you fucking care so much about a fucking word?

"hacking" has evolved to have different meanings. big fucking deal

for whatever bizarre reason, you have a huge attachment to the meaning of "hacking"

whatever, drama queen. get a life

Re:nobody owns words (1)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 4 years ago | (#31965472)

so why do you fucking care so much about a fucking word? "hacking" has evolved to have different meanings. big fucking deal

Ok, number one, mellow out. Why you're legitimately angry over my response is beyond me. Number two, words may change, but this use of the word 'hacking' is way, way outside even the most peripheral usage of the word today. Words, however they change or whatever word you select, still have to *communicate* with the people to whom you are speaking, and this word was badly chosen enough to nearly fail at communication. I don't care what word he chooses so long as it actually says something accurate *to me* and that word said something distinctly *not* accurate, so I called him on it. I'm not some insane language purist or grammar nazi, I merely called the guy on choosing the wrong word for his intended audience in addition to misusing the dictionary definition of the word.

no, you're not a grammar nazi (0, Flamebait)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967958)

you suffer from asperger syndrome. you have clear social defects

no one cares, and you can't control the meaning of words

deal with it

Re:no, you're not a grammar nazi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31968308)

Holy fuck, could you be a bigger hypocrite or flammer?

i could try to be a bigger hypocrite (0)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31968600)

but i don't know how to be a bigger flammer. i don't know what a flammer is

????WTF?????..... (2, Insightful)

rts008 (812749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31965600)

This is the essence of true 'hacking'.

It's not all about 'computers' on 'the internets'.

He is definitely 'hacking' the facial recognition system to give interested parties the ability to avoid/negate it.

Ascribe to the Newspeak, imbibe that Koolaide, let the popular Media 'teach' you, and keep you informed...

Oh yeah,...GET OFF MY LAWN, YOU PUNKS!!!!

Future geek chic ... this chick has it right ... (2, Interesting)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962042)

From our "How to look non-conspicuous department": http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ground/images/paint-992000a.jpg [globalsecurity.org]

Re:Future geek chic ... this chick has it right .. (1)

jaavaaguru (261551) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962452)

I think the word is "inconspicuous".

Re:Future geek chic ... this chick has it right .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31967282)

That's a man, baby...

paper bag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31962072)

- with eyeholes cut out, thwarts face recognition software

Just wear a mask (5, Interesting)

VocationalZero (1306233) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962168)

Whatever happened to just wearing a ski mask when committing a "crime"? I'm not sure I'd feel less silly painting my face than simply putting on a mask.

Whats the point of bypassing facial recognition if you've still been recorded in a manner that could identify you? It would help abate real-time face-triggered alerts, but not much else.

If people start doing this, I predict it would only be a matter of time before the police would categorize anyone with a painted face as a possible terrorist threat, such as how the ski mask is considered now.

Re:Just wear a mask (4, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962228)

The police, and policy in general, are simple:

1. Ignore something.
2. If there's a crime associated with it, stop ignoring it, and start treating it as the crime.
3. Ignore something else.

And so on.

Emo hair (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962692)

Cover half your face with hair and I bet the facial recognition will miss you.

Re:Just wear a mask (3, Interesting)

coaxial (28297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962878)

Whatever happened to just wearing a ski mask when committing a "crime"? I'm not sure I'd feel less silly painting my face than simply putting on a mask.

Not just any mask... [boingboing.net]

Re:Just wear a mask (1)

YodaYid (1049908) | more than 4 years ago | (#32002886)

You're missing the point of his thesis - he's trying to make face detection evasion fashionable, so it's a lot more subtle than wearing a mask.

The idea is more like hipster makeup that would not tip off the police that anything was wrong.

Just so people are aware, this particular Masters program at NYU is part of the art school.

Has Geek chic ever changed? (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962222)

Isn't geek-chic the same as always by definition? i.e. pizza/sweat stained cartoon/computer/who farted t-shirt with optional neck beard. Is that so hard?

Re:Has Geek chic ever changed? (1)

Jason Earl (1894) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962876)

My shirt has Vietnamese food stains, and I am not sporting a neckbeard. I just haven't had time to shave in the last few days.

Re:Has Geek chic ever changed? (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31965676)

My shirt has Vietnamese food stains.....

Well, if it includes nouc mam [wikipedia.org] , it may work...the sensors could be overloaded.

Damn!! (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962316)

If this [regmedia.co.uk] is what future geeks are going to look like, I'ms sure as hell staying in the industry!

won't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31962322)

All you have to do is train the face detection algorithms with these designs, or whatever becomes popular.

Hollywood Masquerade (3, Funny)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962390)

I think it would be hilarious for criminals to just wear Halloween masks of celebrities. Did Justin Bieber rob 62 banks last week? Did Britney Spears steal a carton of Newports in 8 different states in two days? Sure would put new meaning on the american people being robbed. CNN: "Did President Obama rob 1000 people today? Facial recognition technology tips off authorities."

Hey, I am just a guy asking questions. What were we talking about again?

Re:Hollywood Masquerade (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962916)

Hilarious robberies? Wouldn't streaking in Nixon mask be enough for you?

Re:Hollywood Masquerade (1, Flamebait)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31963342)

Obama is on track to rob more then 1000 people....

Re:Hollywood Masquerade (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31963794)

Obama is on track to rob more then 1000 people....

Fucking teabaggers.

Re:Hollywood Masquerade (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#31965174)

Fucking teabaggers.

Right, the GP was no doubt a racist ignorant teabagger, right? Not as enlightened and tolerant as YOU, correct?

After all, any dissent should be stomped out FAST and HARD, in order to keep freedom and democracy alive. Truth through obedience, brother!

Re:Hollywood Masquerade (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31971174)

Right, the GP was no doubt a racist ignorant teabagger, right? Not as enlightened and tolerant as YOU, correct?

After all, any dissent should be stomped out FAST and HARD, in order to keep freedom and democracy alive. Truth through obedience, brother!

Not racist, just partyist. While the rhetoric is different, there's not much difference between his policies and Bushes. If Barry Soetoro had a Republican party affiliation rather than a Democrat party affiliation then instead of tea parties everyone would be yelling "we need to stand behind the commander-in-chief. If you oppose Obamacare you support Al-Qaeda!".

Re:Hollywood Masquerade (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31983774)

Did Britney Spears steal a carton of Newports in 8 different states in two days?

In that case, there is a very good possibility it's actually her.

This passes for thesis research these days? (2, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31962546)

Seriously, no wonder universities are producing so many substandard graduates these days, the standards seem to be inversely proportional to the fee's they charge.

When hiring I hardly give that $100,000 education any weight at all, unless they have on the job experience they've applied it to, and their references can back that up.

Re:This passes for thesis research these days? (1)

ZekoMal (1404259) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964842)

Because the best way to prepare the next generation to take over is to refuse them for not having a college degree, then refuse them for having the college degree but not the experience...seriously, does someone's skill even matter anymore?

Re:This passes for thesis research these days? (1)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967512)

Oh yea. By far. I've seen much worse.

Not sure what you mean by 'that $100,000 education', but if you are refering to fees that students pay, this is not always the case- some pretty awesome Universities/institutes out of the US of A (yes, there IS life out of 'merickuh) have no fees at all. And some will actually compensate you for being a student.

Now, some of them (usually 'low caliber' ones) will push their students for publication of papers, just so that some lazy-ass supervisor will be able to publish his/her own name on a paper for the Nth time that year- you see, in the academia your paper may get more credible according to how many times it has been cited on other papers. Unfortunately this sets forth a kind of publishing frenzy that inevitably lowers the standards and, especially on IT, you can appear to be a genius (by mere 'bodycount' of your publications) while you can well be, in fact, a douche.

What about thermal imaging? (1)

nobodyman (90587) | more than 4 years ago | (#31963114)

This is a clever trick, but I'm not sure if it would defeat a system that utilized thermal imaging [equinoxsensors.com] . Presumably your face would look (pretty much) the same to an LWIR camera regardless of your make-up.

We could all cover our faces with mud the same way Dutch did when he was outsmarting the Predator, but I'm only willing to go so far in my attempts to stay off the grid ;-)

Re:What about thermal imaging? (2, Funny)

sowth (748135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31963442)

It's easy to defeat a thermal imaging camera. Just call in Natalie Portman with her hot grits, and every system is overloaded.

Or gait / movement recognition? (1)

weston (16146) | more than 4 years ago | (#31965374)

Altering your appearance is pretty easy. Altering your habits of motion like your gait, your hand gestures, even to some extent your patterns of facial expression.... not as easy.

CAPTCHA (2, Interesting)

Voltara (6334) | more than 4 years ago | (#31963510)

So, in other words, this is the facial recognition equivalent of a CAPTCHA?

Boot Camp 101 (4, Informative)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964562)

He 'discovered' basic camoflage:
Diagonal lines confuses facial recognision in humans too.

Anyone that has been in the Military/Police could have told him that.

Haar wavelets now in fashoin! (1)

S3D (745318) | more than 4 years ago | (#31965154)

What he basically did was putting haar-like features [intel.com] on the face. Haar-like feature are derived from Haar wavelet [wikipedia.org] .

My face would carry a barcode (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#31965802)

That will trigger a buffer overflow and segmentation fault in the recognition software, consequently snow-crashing [wikipedia.org] the surveillance network wherever I go.

(Or maybe settle for sending a temporary sleep command [schlockmercenary.com] .)

2 obvious ways around this.. (1)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967402)

.. would be a DROP DATABASE statement literally On Your Face, or a 'Groucho Marx' set. (now THAT would be hilarious)

The new norm (1)

scifiber_phil (630217) | more than 4 years ago | (#31967794)

I am less interested in evading Big Brother tech, than I am interested in the ceasing of these intrusions in our lives. We should modify our appearances to avoid being tracked in everything we do? Those who are old enough in the US surely remember being told over and over again that part of what made the US system superior to the soviet system was that US citizens were free to live their lives without constant government scrutiny. We did not have to "show our papers". Now, everything that was shown to us as abuses of the soviet system against its citizens exists here now on steroids and with technology no one would have dreamed possible back then. Let us not get in the mindset that we should try to avoid these technologies, but rather let us work to roll attitudes back to the point where we are free to live without constant government oversight. Can anyone deny "we are being watched" is the new norm, and the new norm is swiftly crossing over into tyranny? Still, I am heartened by the fact that many see facial recognition for what it is, and at least have the attitude that they should be free to thwart it. Of course, understand, at some point there will be laws prohibiting you from painting your face in order to defeat the software. It will be your duty as a citizen to allow yourself to be scrutinized by the government every second of every day. That will then be "the new norm".
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