The Samsung Galaxy S10 has been a hot topic lately, albeit in security-related discussions.
To recap, the fingerprint reader of the Samsung Galaxy S10 turned out to be pretty easy to fool.
Going into more specific details, the fingerprint reader is essentially a tiny ultrasound device. Ultrasonic sound waves are relayed to the screen, where they bounce off the ridges of the person’s finger and are then fed back to the detector to recreate the same 3D structure.
While in theory, the technology seems plausible; in actual practice, other parameters have turned out to greatly affect its efficacy.
While Samsung has specially tailored its official screen protectors to the requirements of the reader, third-party companies haven’t all done the same.
Non-official screen protectors -usually made of silicone or plastic- create small air gaps which, as you can imagine, proves problematic for the sensitive ultrasonic reader.
(Possibly) even more pertinent than the issue of partners being able to unlock each other’s phones is the threat to financial security that the lax security measure imposes.
Natwest has just announced the removal of their online banking app from the Play Store until further notice, with RBS also following suit:
Good morning Robert, We've removed the app from the Play Store for customers with Samsung S10 devices. This is due to reports that there are security concerns regarding these devices. We hope to have our app available again shortly once the issue has been resolved. SY
— NatWest (@NatWest_Help) October 20, 2019
Nationwide Building Society and HSBC, and banks across the world from Israel to China to South Korea, have also warned users of the potential risks of relying on the fingerprint reader to secure your device.
“We have been in direct contact with customers who may be affected by the potential Samsung security issue, and have recommended that they disable their phone’s fingerprint authentication until a fix is confirmed and they’ve updated their device.” – HSBC UK spokeswoman.
Chinese leaders in the mobile payments market, Wechat and Alipay, have taken further precautions and have disabled the fingerprint payment option on their apps altogether for both the S10 and Note 10.
Samsung has responded by saying they’re aware of the issue, assuring us that a fix is imminent.