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Galaxy S8 Facial Recognition is super easy to hack

The Samsung Galaxy S8 may have an oddly placed fingerprint sensor but it makes up for it with an impressive Iris Sensor. Interestingly, Samsung had brought up Facial Recognition as an alternative security feature during its launch event.

So has Samsung perfected the use of facial unlock? Apparently, it isn’t as secure as you think as someone had managed to fool it with a 6-year old trick.

As shown above, a good frontal photo of the owner is all it takes to fool the Galaxy S8 using the Facial Recognition feature. This is an old trick which we discovered on the Galaxy Nexus running on Android Ice Cream Sandwich. Back then, Android’s Chief Designer even responded that the face unlock feature was only optimised for “common use cases” and it can be defeated with some effort.

It’s quite surprising that Samsung’s facial feature can be duped so easily considering they had addressed the issue by requiring users to blink. This was eventually included on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean as a Liveliness Check. We can only assume that the Galaxy S8 software isn’t final and they probably would fix this before it goes on sale.

Nevertheless, Face Unlock isn’t a reliable and convenient way of securing your phone. From our experience, it’s slow and you would need good lighting for it to work. Since the Galaxy S5, the Face Unlock feature was removed since they have a fingerprint sensor built-in on the home button.

As a comparison, Iris scanner is much more reliable and it even works in the dark with the use of infrared light. It is said that Iris scanning is more secure than fingerprint as it’s harder to replicate. In addition, your iris data is also stored on the hardware level by Samsung’s KNOX just like your fingerprint data. On the Galaxy S8, Samsung is also letting you authenticate Samsung Pay payments using your Iris.

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Would you bother with Face Unlock? Let us know in the comments below.


Alexander Wong