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Everything you want to know about morphing

Surely you have heard of morphing, a concept that is on the rise and is very popular on internet forums.

Although the vast majority of its applications are aimed at leisure, it is a technique that also involves dangers. Specifically, because more and more criminals use it to impersonate the identity of new victims. But what exactly is it?

What is morphing?

Morphing is a digital transformation or editing technique. It consists of a special effect that transforms the photograph of a real object or a person into the image of another real object or person.

The procedure consists of collecting two images or photos of the users that are going to be transformed; the source element and the end. Both images are then digitized on a computer. After digitizing the images, image processing software is used to carry out said transformation.

Morphing is an image manipulation technique that transforms one image into another, in the form of an animation-transition.

If you google “morphing”, you can get an idea.

Morphing vs. deepfake

We can differentiate morphing and deepfakes for its purpose, since both are digital editing and transformation techniques (more or less complex).

Morphing, meanwhile, is meant to defeat facial recognition, while deepfakes are generated to deceive and/or spread information.

Risks of morphing

As an editing and production technique, morphing can be very interesting. One more feat of technology, but we must not forget the risks involved.

If used for illegitimate purposes, this computer technique that copies and transforms people’s photos can become a tool for identity theft or other cybercrimes.

Why is morphing a risk for facial biometrics?

Morphing involves risks for facial biometrics, mainly because there are numerous affordable tools to do it. Therefore, it constitutes a threat to entities and companies that accept photographs as identity credentials.

In fact, it is a crime on the order of the day in border controls, given that more and more cases of this threat are being detected in which passport photographs and identity documents of random people are manipulated by computer in order to falsify them and circumvent facial biometric security systems.

The reality is that this technique can be useful for criminals who want to be free, because if they succeed in making people believe that they are someone else, they will be able to travel freely through customs borders. In addition, they can do evil not only physically, but also online.

Due to how easy it is to use this mechanism, attempts to enter European borders with passports manipulated via morphing are the order of the day. However, while it is true that there is more and more control over it. For example, in Germany a couple of years ago there was a legislation to deny the use of analog images (in which the transformation is not detected) for the passport.

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