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Wednesday, 24 May 2017 10:23

Researchers break Galaxy S8 iris recognition system Featured

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Researchers from the Chaos Computer Club say they have successfully defeated the iris recognition system on the recently released Samsung Galaxy S8 using a dummy eye that is simple to make.

The Galaxy S8 is the first smartphone with iris recognition technology and the biometric solution is made by Princeton Identity. It promises to provide secure authentication utilising the unique pattern of the human iris.

The CCC said iris recognition provided hardly any protection against strangers unlocking it while anyone who had a photo of the owner could trivially unlock it.

"If you value the data on your phone – and possibly want to even use it for payment – using the traditional PIN-protection is a safer approach than using body features for authentication,“ CCC spokesperson Dirk Engling said.

With Samsung having announced integration of iris recognition authentication with its payment system, Samsung Pay, a successful attacker would also gain access to the owner’s mobile wallet.

Engling said: "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.“

The CCC said that merely not uploading selfies would not guard against having the iris recognition system compromised.

It said the easiest way to capture iris pictures was with a digital camera in night-shot mode or with the infra-red filter removed.

"In the infra-red light spectrum – usually filtered in cameras – the fine, normally hard to distinguish details of the iris of dark eyes are well recognisable."

CCC member and biometrics security researcher starbug was able to demonstrate that a good digital camera with 200mm-lens at a distance of up to five metres was sufficient to capture good enough pictures to fool iris recognition systems.


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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