ove the Iris scanner on the Galaxy S8 and how conveniently it allows you to unlock your smartphone? You should think twice before using it as your primary mode of unlocking the smartphone. Hackers have hacked the Galaxy S8’s Iris scanner using nothing but a printer, a point and shoot camera and a contact lens.
An Iris scanner was first introduced in a commercial smartphone by Samsung in the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7. While the smartphone crashed and burned at launch, literally, the technology was carried forward into what is arguably this year’s hottest flagship – the Galaxy S8.
While Samsung claims that the Iris scanner in the Galaxy S8 is “one of the safest ways to keep your phone locked”, German Hacking group Chaos Computer Club managed to fool the system using components costing less than the price of the smartphone. “By far [the] most expensive part of the iris biometry hack was the purchase of the Galaxy S8,” the group wrote on its website.
They carried out the hack by taking a photo of a target from five meters away, printing a close-up of the subject’s eye and then placing a regular contact lens on top of the print to replicate the curve of an eyeball. As soon as the print was held up to the smartphone, voila, the Galaxy S8 unlocked itself.
Dirk Engling, spokesperson for the group had this to say – “The security risk to the user from iris recognition is even bigger than with fingerprints as we expose our irises a lot”. “Under some circumstances, a high-resolution picture from the internet is sufficient to capture an iris”, he added.
This not the first time the group has exposed serious vulnerabilities in new technologies. They had earlier hacked the iPhone 5s fingerprint sensor using nothing but photos of a glass surface. This hack can have serious consequences. Biometric security is fast becoming the next big thing. Australia has introduced facial recognition to replace passports in airports and Mastercard has rolled out a feature called “Selfie Pay” in Europe.
While this does not mean you should stop using the Iris Scanner in your Galaxy S8, you should be vigilant of the fact that the technology is hackable and not carry sensitive information on your phone.