Hackers Trick Samsung Galaxy S8 Iris Recognition Using a Printed Photo and a Contact Lens

German hackers have successfully broken the iris recognition authentication in the Samsung Galaxy S8 using equipment that costs less than the price of the smartphone, according to Ars Technica.

Hackers with the Chaos Computer Club used a digital camera, a Samsung laser printer, and a contact lens to achieve the feat. The hack involved taking a picture of the phone owner's face, printing it out on paper, carefully placing the contact lens on the iris in the printout, and holding the image in front of the locked Galaxy S8.


The video shown above was posted by the hackers to demonstrate the process in action. The photo doesn't have to be a close-up shot, although using night-shot mode or removing the infrared filter helps, according to the hackers.

The hack comes despite the fact that both Samsung and Princeton Identity, the manufacturer of the authentication technology, say iris recognition provides "airtight security" that allows consumers to "finally trust that their phones are protected". Princeton Identity have also said the Samsung partnership "brings us one step closer to making iris recognition the standard for user authentication."

The Galaxy S8 is one of the first flagship phones to offer iris recognition as a convenient alternative to using a passcode or fingerprint, but the hackers said they suspect future mobile devices that offer iris recognition may be equally easy to hack. Apple is widely expected to include the feature alongside Touch ID and face recognition in this year's much-rumored OLED iPhone, although the possible origins of the technology remain unclear.

Apple has already trademarked "Iris Engine", presumably in relation to the upcoming feature, with its acquisition of companies such as Faceshift and PrimeSense lending credence to the suggestion that Apple is developing its own solution for the so-called "iPhone 8". One report has claimed that Taiwan-based supplier Xintec, an affiliate of Apple manufacturer TSMC, is mass-producing the iris recognition chips for Apple.

Samsung reportedly added a facial recognition capability to the Galaxy S8 because of doubts about the reliability of iris scanning on its own, but the security of the facial recognition itself came into question almost immediately, when a photo of a user's face was used to unlock a handset at the S8 launch event.

Related Forum: iPhone

Top Rated Comments

keysofanxiety Avatar
65 months ago
Ah that blog post from Princeton Identity...
In our daily lives, we almost always confirm the identity of the people who we know using a version of biometrics – we recognize the face, the body size and shape, and the voice of our friends, family and coworkers.
I can't help but imagine lots of people having conversations with cardboard cutouts of their coworkers and not knowing the difference.

They also tricked Touch ID btw
By replicating a fingerprint in identical detail, yes. It's like 'tricking' a door by creating the exact key which fits the lock. Samsung's door, on the other hand, would simply creak open by whistling into the lock like a Shaman Throat Warbler. :D
Score: 53 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Nik Avatar
65 months ago
They also tricked Touch ID btw. With a photograph + wax. For Samsung you need Photograph + Contact Lens. Not much different. Both systems are not secure.
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Zirel Avatar
65 months ago
Iris -> Siri
Both worthless. Who would have thought?
So worthless, that Apple received multiple awards for its use by disabled people...
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tdream Avatar
65 months ago
Samsung security is worthless because hackers found a way to steal a sample of your saliva, reengineer a perfect clone of you using stem cells and dna material left on your starbucks coffee cup. Now they've stolen your wife, family and kids, house, bank accounts, dog and collection of baseball cards.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheShadowKnows! Avatar
65 months ago
Iris -> Siri
Both worthless. Who would have thought?
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Relentless Power Avatar
65 months ago
So Samsungs gimmick feature got hacked,No doubt Finger print scanner is more secure than this iris scanner.
@Sunny1990. Actually, you're incorrect. Iris scanning is far more secure than a fingerprint scanner.

The iris is the colored pattern part of your eye. It is developed when you're approximately a year old or so. An eye injury or death, apparently never changes after the fact. Fingerprints can likely be duplicated one out of 50,000 as where Iris scanning is more similar to one out of 1 million. It uses infrared and a camera to detect the Iris.

Iris scanning is also expected to be 5/6 times more secure than a fingerprint and accurate in reading, because it contains more unique information about you and makes it highly more accurate/reliable than fingerprint scanning. Fingerprint scanning can be duplicated .

http://science.howstuffworks.com/biometrics4.htm

http://findbiometrics.com/solutions/iris-scanners-recognition/
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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