U.S Senator Writes to Samsung Over Galaxy S5 Fingerprint Scanner Security Concerns

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U.S Senator Al Franken, a Democrat of Minnesota, wrote a letter to Samsung in PDF form Tuesday to express his concerns over the Galaxy S5?s security features. The senator also wrote about his worry about a potential breaching of privacy for smartphone users. The letter came after a report from researchers that they could easily hack into the flagship phone by simply using the device?s fingerprint scanner.

“I am concerned by reports that Samsung’s fingerprint scanner may not be as secure as it may seem,” said Franken in his letter, “and that those security gaps might create broader security problems on the S5 smartphone.”

Fingerprint Sensor Hacked

Last month, the researchers performed an experiment to see if they can hack into the Galaxy S5 through its fingerprint sensor. Security Research Labs revealed it could bypass the flagship phone?s biometric security using a ?wood glue spoof.? They created a mold taken from a photo of a fingerprint smudge that a person left on the device?s screen.

Franken emphasized in his letter that fingerprint scanners often provide lesser security than passwords as fingerprints stay with people forever. “Fingerprints are the opposite of secret. You leave them on countless objects that you touch throughout the day: your car door, a glass of water, even the screen of your smartphone. And unlike passwords, fingerprints cannot be changed,” Franken wrote.

“If hackers get hold of a digital copy of your fingerprint, they could use it to impersonate you for the rest of your life, particularly as more and more technologies start relying on fingerprint authentication,” he added.

Galaxy S5 Fingerprint Scanner More Vulnerable than iPhone 5S

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The senator also raised similar concerns about the fingerprint scanner of Apple?s iPhone 5S last fall. The researchers performed the same technique they used on the Galaxy 5 to bypass the scanner on Apple?s smartphone. While they have successfully hacked the device, Franken explained that the Galaxy S5 has more security issues than iPhone 5S.

The Korean tech giant?s flagship phone allows unlimited attempts for incorrect entries without a password prompt. Another issue is the use of the fingerprint sensor to open secured apps and services. Franken requested Samsung to respond to his letter by explaining how these issues would be addressed.

“I’m not trying to discourage adoption of fingerprint technology for consumer mobile devices,” the senator wrote. “Rather, my goal is to urge companies to deploy this technology in the most secure manner reasonable.”

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