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Samsung’s Galaxy S8 facial recognition can be hacked with a selfie

Tim Maytom

Samsung Galaxy S8
The Samsung Galaxy S8 launches later this month, and the South Korean manufacturer is in desperate need of a big win following the disastrous launch of the Note7 and a controversy-plagued executive team. However, one of the phone’s new security features is not all it’s cracked up to be.

The smartphone features a facial recognition ability that enables owners to unlock the phone simply by looking into the front-facing camera. Reporters who have been given an early look at the device claim its faster and easier than using a fingerprint, but a flaw in the system has been identified before the phone is even available to the general public.

YouTube channel iDeviceHelp was able to get hold of a Galaxy S8 and found that the system could be fooled with a photograph of the user. While the feature took longer than usual to register the face, it still unlocked the phone to be used as normal.

Following the video’s release, Samsung released a statement saying that the facial recognition technology wasn’t intended to be a secure feature, and was instead a way to open the smartphone to its home screen.

“Facial recognition is a convenient action to open your phone – similar to the ‘swipe to unlock’ action,” said a Samsung spokesperson. “We offer the highest level of biometric authentication – fingerprint and iris – to lock your phone and authenticate access to Samsung Pay or Secure Folder.”

More secure facial recognition has been developed by a number of firms, including Microsoft, whose Windows Hello software is sensitive enough to tell identical twins apart, and Atom Bank, who use a short burst of video rather than a single image to distinguish between a real face and a photograph.