This week Samsung rushed out a finger print security patch after Lisa Neilson, a mum from Castleford, West Yorkshire in the UK discovered that anyone could unlock her new Samsung S10 smartphone. It was first revealed in The Sun newspaper.
Lisa, thrilled with her new phone purchased a £2.80 screen protector and then discovered that having set up finger print unlocking that anyone’s finger prints bypassed security and that her husband could access her banking apps. Samsung investigated and discovered that Qualcomm’s ultrasonic in-screen finger print sensor was recognising 3-dimensional patterns appearing on certain silicone screen protecting cases as users’ fingerprints.
If you have a screen protector, particularly a silicon screen protector with a textured surface on the inside, this could be recognised as a finger print that can unlock your phone.
This glitch has impacted both the S10 and the new flagship Note 10 Samsung handsets and if you own one of these then a patch has been issued which you should download and install and then restart your phone. Samsung say that if you have any fingerprints registered on your handset you should delete them and re-register them without using a screen cover. Samsung now recommend that you do not use a screen cover, particularly not one with a textured surface on the inside.
This is of course a massive embarrassment – mistaking a 3-dimensional patterns appearing on a silicone screen and interpreting it as a fingerprint isn’t good news for the technology and has led to China’s Alipay and WeChat Pay payment solutions disabling authorisation by finger print on some Samsung handsets. In the UK Barclays also issued a warning to their customers via text messages.