Samsung Acknowledges Galaxy S10 Fingerprint Flaw

Samsung Electronics has promised to issue a software patch to fix a problem that allows any fingerprint to unlock the Galaxy S10 if fitted with a screen protector.

The problem was not found by security researchers, but rather it was discovered by a British couple earlier this week.

Lisa and Wes Neilson told the Sun newspaper that after she had fitted a cheap third party gel screen protector on eBay, her husband was able to open the S10 using his fingerprints, even though his biometric data was not registered on the device.

The Galaxy S10. Image credit: Samsung

Fingerprint sensor

Samsung has taken noted of the issue after it came to light, and according to Reuters, it will soon roll out a software patch to fix problems with the fingerprint recognition on the smartphone.

“Samsung Electronics is aware of the case of the S10’s malfunctioning fingerprint recognition and will soon issue a software patch,” the company told Reuters in a statement.

The problem has been deemed serious enough that an online bank in South Korea (KaKaobank), has reportedly advised owners to switch off fingerprint recognition until it is resolved.

When the Galaxy S10 series phones were launched to markets in March, it featured a fingerprint sensor placed under the screen, that uses ultrasound to detect the ridges of fingerprints, which Samsung touted at the time as a “revolutionary” biometric authentication feature.

It seems this ultrasonic sensor can be fooled by plastic or silicon screen protectors, so Samsung has been recommending that buyers used approved protective devices rather.

Biometric issue

However that does not explain why the smartphone is allowing access to non-registered fingerprints to open up the device.

In the meantime, worried S10 users could alternatively opt to use Samsung’s face unlocking, or maybe just a good old passcode.

This is not the first time that Samsung has had problems with its fingerprint sensor.

Back in 2014, Security Research Labs (SRLabs) re-used a fingerprint mould to bypass the fingerprint authentication of a Samsung Galaxy S5.

Quiz: Think you know all about Samsung?

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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