Eye Spy

I read an article recently about using the reflections in a person’s eye to identify others who might have been nearby when a photo was taken. It would clearly have to be a high resolution photo, the lighting would have to be good and other factors would have be factored in, of course. The researchers involved clearly demonstrated the technique, so it is not just theory.

I remember seeing television shows were criminals were caught because their reflections could be seen in car bodies, lamps and other smooth objects. At the time, I believed the images might be too low-resolution for the identification, but perhaps with multiple images, there would be enough information.

The technology seems quite interesting and may help with law enforcement. Of course, there are far more cameras out there than just those used by law enforcement. It seems as though everyone has at least one or two (on their phones, for instance) and some people have many more. Maybe everyone could see things in eyes and reflections from other objects that were otherwise believed to be hidden… Could a high-resolution photo on Instagram have some hidden information? Might a fashion photo reveal images in the eyes of models? How does this relate to cybersecurity?

With a high-resolution camera images can be discovered in reflections. As phones are sold with increasingly higher-resolution cameras, corporate espionage may also be increasingly easy. Few organizations other than those with government-mandated high security tend to limit mobile phone conversations. What’s to keep someone from taking pictures surreptitiously with a phone camera? And if those pictures are of eyes and other reflective surfaces information leakage is sure to occur. Someone watching the unsuspected photographer might not even notice that he or she was photographing reflective surfaces.

I suppose this also means that if organizations used high-resolution security cameras and placed sufficiently reflective surfaces in their field of view, analysts might be able to observe actions thought to be outside the camera’s view. Television shows and movies often have characters avoid detection by knowing where surveillance cameras are located and then moving in uncovered areas. If the cameras could expand their field of view through the use of reflections unnoticed by bad actors, otherwise undetected actions might be detected. I can’t imagine anyone relying on this, but it might be useful in situations where cameras cannot be properly placed or where they were placed without covering all desired areas.

This is quite interesting research and I’d love to hear stories of actual use of reflections by law enforcement or by security forces. This aspect of physical security is a bit beyond Learning Tree Course 468, but maybe a future course could cover this and other physical security and surveillance topics.

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