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The Galaxy S5's fingerprint reader can be fooled by fake digits

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
April 15, 2014
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It looks like the iPhone 5s isn't the only smartphone whose fingerprint reader can be fooled by fake digits. SR Labs has just posted a video (shown below) showing that Samsung's just-launched Galaxy S5 is susceptible to the same trick: as long as you have a good photo of a latent print (such as one from the touchscreen), you can create a mold that passes for a real finger. The lab also claims that Samsung's approach may ultimately be less secure than Apple's, since you're not forced to enter a passcode under certain conditions (such as a reboot) and can use the fingerprint to make PayPal transactions.

You may not have much reason to panic, though. As with the iPhone, the GS5 vulnerability requires the skill, resources and time to create a fake finger. The odds are low that a street thief will get past your phone's defenses, or that a talented hacker will get in before you've had a chance to remotely wipe your content. PayPal also tells us that it's easy to block any unwanted payments, since the fingerprint isn't linked to your account. Even with these caveats in mind, SR Labs' demonstration remains a friendly reminder that biometric security isn't foolproof -- if intruders are determined to get at your data, there's a good chance that they will.

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