Researchers: Fingerprint sensors on phones are not as safe as you think

Apr

11

2017

Researchers were able to fool sensors with false fingerprints.
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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Fingerprints on smart phones can be easily fooled by fake fingerprints that include many of the common characteristics of human fingerprints, according to new findings published Monday by researchers at the University of New York and Michigan.

In a computer simulation, researchers from both universities have developed a set of artificial “fingerprints” that can match real human fingerprints similar to those used by phones by up to 65 percent.

The researchers did not test their way on real phones, but other security experts pointed out that the matching rate would be much lower in real life conditions. However, those findings are thought to raise concern about the effectiveness of fingerprint security on smartphones.

“It’s hard to fake human fingerprints completely, but finger scanners on phones are so small that they read only a small part of the fingerprints,” says Andy Adler, a professor of systems and computer engineering at Carleton University in Canada who studies biometric security systems. When a user sets up fingerprint security on an iPhone or Android phone from Google, the phone usually takes between 8 and 10 pictures of your fingers to make the matching easier. And many users register more than a finger, may be the thumb and forefinger of each hand. ”

The researchers believe that scanners are limited to matching only one stored image to open the phone, the system is vulnerable to penetration using fake fingerprints.

“It’s like you have 30 passwords and the attacker needs only one match,” said Nasir Memon, a professor of computer science and engineering at Tandon School of Engineering at New York University, one of three authors.

Dr. Memon added that their findings indicate that if someone can somehow create a magic glove that includes “key fingerprints” on each finger, he will be able to open 40 to 50% of iPhone phones with only five attempts, before To request a digital password phone, known as a “PIN” PIN.

It is believed that it is difficult to quantify actual risks. Companies such as Apple and Google keep many details of fingerprint sensors secret, and dozens of companies that make Android phones can adapt Google’s standard design in ways that reduce the level of security.

Smartphone makers can also increase security easily through partial fingerprint matching, but some companies do not do so for fear of inconvenience to a user who will have to pass a finger two or three times to unlock it.

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