You could, quite easily, pull off a McGyver on a Samsung Galaxy S6 or a Huawei Honor 7 phone. Security researchers have discovered a way to trick these two phones and unlock them through the fingerprint scanner, using an inkjet printer, a few drops of conductive ink and special paper usually used for printing electronic circuits.
Here’s what they did: they took scans of a couple of fingers, and just printed them, in two dimensions, on paper using conducive ink, which conducts a charge. They printed it on special paper used for printing electronic circuits and other charge-carrying systems. Pressing the prints against the fingerprint scanner managed to unlock the two phones.
"This experiment further confirms the urgent need for anti-spoofing techniques for fingerprint recognition systems, especially for mobile devices which are being increasingly used for unlocking the phone and for payment", the two researchers, Kai Cao and Anil K. Jain, said in the whitepaper.
Although no other devices have been tested, the researchers say many of today’s top smartphones use the same technology, meaning other devices could be spoofed in the same way.
The Guardian has come to an interesting conclusion regarding this discovery: it’s very unlikely that hackers will be able to use this spoof any time soon, as it requires a perfect, high-resolution scan of the fingerprint. However, law enforcement agencies, looking for a way into a suspect’s phone, might have a much easier time now.
"This experiment further confirms the urgent need for antispoofing techniques for fingerprint recognition systems, especially for mobile devices which are being increasingly used for unlocking the phone and for payment", the researchers concluded.