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Samsung Galaxy S10 Ultrasonic Sensor Falls Prey to 3D-Printed Fingerprint

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Last Updated: April 08, 2019, 10:58 IST

Samsung Galaxy S10 Ultrasonic Sensor Falls Prey to 3D-Printed Fingerprint

The ultrasonic fingerprint sensor on board the Samsung Galaxy S10 is apparently not a foolproof biometric authenticator.

The Samsung Galaxy S10 has introduced an impressive package with the Galaxy S10, throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at it in terms of the overall list of features that a smartphone can come with today. One of them happen to be the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, which, on theory, is far superior to the optical grade biometric sensors typically used in smartphones. However, a recent post on Imgur has revealed that the sensor does come with a flaw that can cause security to be compromised, with a 3D-printed, replicated fingerprint model.

According to the post, while the entire procedure did take a while and a few complicated steps to be executed, it is not beyond the potential of being breached. To create a replica of the fingerprint, a photograph of the ‘print was taken on a glass surface, using a smartphone camera. It was then blown up using contrast adjustment and an alpha layer mask, following which height and depth data were tweaked and added via 3Ds Max. The fingerprint was then printed out using a 3D printer — the AnyCubic Photon LCD resin printer, to be exact.

While the entire process took at least three times to be gotten right, it was not tedious to the point of improbable, to be perfected. Once the replica was created, the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor on board the Galaxy S10 authenticated unlocking with the 3D fingerprint replica. This will be a cause of concern, since such biometric breach might be exploited in remote usage cases to cause damages such as ransomware attacks.

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    An ultrasonic fingerprint sensor uses sound pressure waves in the principle of a sonar, to validate a fingerprint. It can judge the pores, ridges and patterns of a fingerprint with high accuracy, and seemingly do so at a much faster speed than the optical fingerprint sensors that have mostly been used in smartphones to date. However, the model evidently has glitches, which may be fixed with stronger algorithms in the long run.

    As of now, however, the issue remains a cause of concern, and it remains to be seen how Samsung responds to this incident going forward.

    first published:April 08, 2019, 10:58 IST
    last updated:April 08, 2019, 10:58 IST