Google Pixel 4 Face Unlock Works If User Is Asleep

Google’s newly launched flagship smartphone, the Pixel 4, has an issue with its face unlock feature, that could allow unauthorised access to the device.

It has been discovered that Pixel 4 owners can unlock their smartphones with their faces even if they have their eyes closed. This can be a problem as it can allow for unauthorised access if the person is asleep for example, or even dead in more extreme cases.

Samsung this week meanwhile acknowledged that its flagship device, the Galaxy S10, had a flaw with its fingerprint sensor, that could allow anyone’s fingerprint to unlock it, if the phone is using a third party screen protector.

Security issue

But unlike the Galaxy S10, the Pixel 4 (unlike its predecessors) does not contain a fingerprint sensor to handle authentication and security.

Instead the only biometric system it utilises for authentication is Face Unlock.

But it seems that unlike alternatives from rivals such as Apple, Google’s Face Unlock does not detect if the person’s eyes are open.

Ironically the flaw was not found by a security researcher, but rather a technology reporter for the BBC, Chris Fox.

A video of him unlocking the phone with his eyes shut can be found here.

He said the test had been carried out on a number of different people, with the same result.

It seems that prelaunch models of the Pixel 4 had a setting labelled: ‘Require eyes to be open,’ in the facial-recognition menu.

But this setting was not present on the devices loaned to BBC News.

And to make matters worse, Google reportedly told BBC News it would not feature on the Pixel 4 when it goes on sale, on 24 October.

Instead Google reportedly said that concerned users wanting enhanced security, can switch on “lockdown” mode – which deactivates facial recognition.

It is worth noting that Apple employed similar face unlocking technology for its Face ID system on the iPhone X and its latest iPhone 11 models.

But it required people’s eyes to be open in order to work.

Do you know all about security? Try our quiz!

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...

Recent Posts

Google Increases Concessions, Amid CMA Oversight Of Cookie Removal

Google expands data pledges to address concerns of British competition regulator, overseeing tech giant's removal…

2 days ago

India Moves To Ban Private Cryptocurrencies

India is to launch its own official digital currency, but will also ban private cryptocurrencies…

2 days ago

Google To Pay Millions To Ireland In Back Taxes

Google is to pay £183m in back taxes to the Irish government, in line with…

2 days ago

Orange CEO Resigns After Court Conviction

Stephane Richard steps down from his CEO and chairman positions of French mobile giant Orange,…

3 days ago

Apple To Use Own iPhone 5G Modem Design In 2023 – Report

Bad news Qualcomm. Team up with TSMC will see Apple utilise its own 5G modems…

3 days ago