[Fix rolling] Galaxy S10/Note 10 fingerprint scanner security vulnerabilities reportedly to be patched soon

New updates are being added at the bottom of this story…….

Original story (published on October 17, 2019) follows:

Google unveiled the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL earlier this week with a number of firsts in the Pixel lineup. The obvious one is the addition of a second camera lens on the back, but some are disappointed that it wasn’t an ultra-wide-angle lens and instead, it’s a telephoto lens.

Another interesting first on Google Pixel 4 is Face unlock. So good is Face unlock that Google elected to completely do away with the traditional fingerprint scanner that usually appears on the back of Pixels.

The search giant went for a sophisticated, depth-sensing system that combines data from the many sensors on the chunky top bezel and takes advantage of the Soli radar chip to anticipate your next action as you approach the phone.

So, why would Google go with 3D Face unlock for authentication instead of just sticking an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor under the display screen of the Pixel 4 like the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note 10? Well, apparently, its probably because the latter is still not as secure as 3D Face unlock.

Google-Pixel-4
Google Pixel 4

In what is not the first incident of fooling the ultrasonic fingerprint scanner on the Galaxy S10, a recent report by UK’s The Sun revealed an interesting case regarding the Galaxy S10 and its biometric authentication system.

Apparently, a couple determined that slapping a silicon case on the Galaxy S10 messed up with the fingerprint authentication system of the phone.

After buying a ‘gel screen protector’ off eBay and installing it on a Galaxy S10, the couple found that any fingerprint could be used to unlock the phone with the protector on. How the case manages to confuse the fingerprint scanner is something Samsung has been investigating.

And according to the latest reports, the Korean company has found the issue and will soon send out a software update to Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note 10 users to fix it.

Galaxy-S10-fingerprint-scanner

Samsung has always insisted that Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note 10 buyers purchase the official screen protectors from the company. Perhaps this is because the fingerprint scanner has been found not to play nicely with tempered glass screen protectors, which should explain why Samsung doesn’t stock them.

Ultrasonic fingerprint readers communicate with the fingerprint by sending sound waves and reading the reflections. Since having a tempered glass protector on the screen introduces a small gap between the finger and the scanner, its effectiveness is greatly reduced.

Still, this doesn’t explain the scenario where anyone can place their finger on the S10 or Note 10 for that matter and unlock it, whether registered or not. But the best part is that a fix is coming soon.

Update 1 (October 18)

Samsung has started rolling out the promised hotfix that addresses the fingerprint scanner’s security issue beginning with the Galaxy Note 10+ 5G. The update is also expected to arrive on the Galaxy S10, S10, and the LTE Note 10 and Note 10+ in the coming days. More details here.

Update 2 (October 24)

Samsung pushed an update to address the fingerprint issue on Galaxy S10/Note 10 in Korea. The same OTA will make its way to global units within 24 hours. Details here.

Update 3 (October 25)

Keeping yesterday’s promise, Samsung is now delivering the new fingerprint firmware for Galaxy S10 & Note 10 via a biometrics update all over the world. See here for further details.

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Hillary Keverenge

A techy. Besides phones, I also enjoy the farm, music, football, and, of course, food.