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

Twitter Confirms ‘Super Follow’ Option, For Paid Content

Money maker. Super follow feature coming soon on Twitter, will allow users to receive tips…

3 days ago

Windows 10 ‘Sun Valley’ Promises Major Overhaul

OS refresh. Major update to six year old Windows 10 operating system, dubbed Sun Valley,…

3 days ago

Oxford University Confirms Hack Of Biology Lab Studying Covid-19

NCSC investigates after hackers compromised one of the world’s top biology labs at Oxford University,…

3 days ago

Consumer Group Which? Targets Qualcomm In Legal Action

Legal action against Qualcomm could result in 29 million UK 4G smartphone owners being entitled…

4 days ago

Google To Change Review Process Of Scientist Work

Executives at troubled Google AI research unit say they are working to retain trust, after…

4 days ago

NHS Challenged Over Data Contract With Palantir

Contract between NHS and data mining firm Palantir now at centre of lawsuit filed by…

4 days ago