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Chinese researchers reveal method to bypass biometric fingerprint scanners in smartphones

Chinese researchers reveal method to bypass biometric fingerprint scanners in smartphones

Chinese security researchers from X-Lab security at Tencent challenged fingerprint security in a presentation at the GeekPwn 2019 conference in Shanghai, writes Forbes. The team claims it can hack into almost any Android or iOS device in just about 20 minutes by using what appears to be a fairly simple fingerprint hacking method.

Without giving too many details about the actual technical approach to the audience, researchers used a smartphone to take a photo of fingerprints left on a glass and ran the photo through an app they developed. They were then able to gain access into three different phones equipped with different scanning technologies, one each with capacitive, optical, and ultrasonic sensors. A pair of event fingerprint scanning machines were also defeated in the demo. According to Forbes, a 3D printer was likely used to recreate the fingerprint. The hardware behind the experiment costs as little as $140, according to Chen Yu, one of the team members.

While the method requires the attacker to have physical possession of the individual’s phone after collecting a clear enough latent print, by using latent prints the method requires less cooperation than a fake print hack against the OnePlus 7 Pro’s optical sensor carried out earlier this year, which requires a mold to be made from the target’s finger.

South Korean tech company Samsung has recently addressed a major security vulnerability in the biometric fingerprint recognition function of the S10 smartphone. A number of users reported that a cheap screen protector made it simple to bypass the ultrasonic in-display fingerprint security system and unlock the smartphone with any fingerprint. Soon after, the company issued a software update.

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