Android smartphones can be unlocked with 2D-printed fingerprints

Android smartphones offering biometric security can be tricked into unlocking with 2D fingerprints, say researchers – and all you need is some glossy paper and an Inkjet printer.

According to a paper published by Michigan State University researchers Kai Cao and Anil Jain, fingerprint scanners on Android devices can be duped with a high-resolution photo of the owner’s fingerprint. Photos need only be flipped horizontally and then printed on a certain paper with photo-conductive ink cartridges.

The flaw doesn’t appear to be limited to just one model of smartphone, as researchers were able to fool a Samsung Galaxy S6 and Huawei’s Honor 7 using the same method.

Fingerprint sensors have become an increasingly common form of smartphone security since debuting on the iPhone 5s back in 2013. As ZD Net points out, though, no system is perfect, and the iPhone was breached within weeks using a latex material.

That hasn’t stopped developers experimenting with biometrics, just as it hasn’t stopped cybercriminals experimenting with potential hacks. As the Daily Mail reports, it was recently suggested that iPhones could be broken into with Play-Doh – although it requires the phone’s owner to press his or her finger into the modeling material for five minutes.

Meanwhile fingerprint scanners aren’t the only biometrics that manufacturers are experimenting with – heartbeat monitors are being trialled as a way to provide secure banking, and even wearables that measure your gait.

According to the two Michigan State University researchers, these too could be susceptible to attack. “It is only a matter of time before hackers develop improved hacking strategies not just for fingerprints,” says the report, “but other biometric traits as well that are being adopted for mobile phones”

Image: Nebojsa Markovic / Shutterstock.com

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