Samsung has issued a software patch for its Galaxy S10 smartphone to fix a flaw in the under-screen fingerprint sensor that allowed anyone to unlock the device with the help of a cheap screen protector (via Reuters).

samsung galaxy s10 lineup 2019
The problem was brought to light last week, when a British user who applied a gel screen protector to her Galaxy S10 subsequently discovered that unregistered fingerprints could be used to unlock the device.

Samsung later admitted the issue can happen when patterns appearing on certain protectors that come with silicon cases are recognized along with fingerprints.

On Wednesday, Samsung issued an apology via its customer support app Samsung Members and told Galaxy phone owners to update their biometric authentication to the latest software version.

"Samsung Electronics takes the security of products very seriously and will make sure to strengthen security through continuing improvement and updates to enhance biometric authentication functions," the company said via the support app.

The Galaxy S10 is the latest in Samsung's flagship S series, which is updated each year and regarded as the iPhone's main rival, but the fingerprint recognition problem in its latest smartphone has already caused reputational damage, with some banks pulling their apps from the Play store in response to the security flaw.


Samsung originally aimed to bring an under-display fingerprint sensor to its smartphone line-up in 2018, but canceled the feature at the last minute due to similar technical issues surrounding the use of screen protectors.

In March, the Korean company launched the S10 with much fanfare and promoted its first commercial under-screen fingerprint recognition solution as "revolutionary" at the time.

Top Rated Comments

jimothyGator Avatar
43 months ago
If I were an S10 user, I’d still be leery. It’d make some sense if a screen protector prevented the phone from recognizing a valid fingerprint, but to make it accept any fingerprint? That suggests a pretty lax system. It’s as if the software is saying, ah heck, I can’t read this fingerprint at all! Come on in!

Yes, they’ve issued a patch and maybe this really does fix things. But to get something so critical so wrong makes me skeptical. Press releases aside, that doesn’t demonstrate they take security very seriously.

We’ll see what third party testing demonstrates, but for now, I’d be cautious
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JohnApples Avatar
43 months ago
Can you imagine if an iPhone had this flaw? People here would be demanding Tim’s head on a platter, news sites would be reporting non-stop on the “biggest security flaw in the past decade”, and there would be droves of people vowing to boycott Apple until Steve was resurrected from the dead.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sinsin07 Avatar
43 months ago

Can you imagine if an iPhone had this flaw? People here would be demanding Tim’s head on a platter, news sites would be reporting non-stop on the “biggest security flaw in the past decade”, and there would be droves of people vowing to boycott Apple until Steve was resurrected from the dead.
You forget two things:
1: Class Action
2: Letters to Apple demanding an explanation from some random Senators/Congress Person/Oversight committee who have no idea about technology but want to make a splash in the news.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
realtuner Avatar
43 months ago

It’s not an air gap that is fooling the sensor.

Just as some (most) clear cases have a texture to prevent the phone from having that wet bubble look, the “screen protector” in question has the same thing. The fingerprint sensor is reading that texture as the fingerprint during registration, not the users’ actual fingerprint. So, with the texture being read anyone can unlock the phone, as that pattern is what was actually registered.
Your missing the example where the fingerprint was registered without a screen protector and placing a case on the phone allowed a different finger to unlock it.

How do you explain that?
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
csurfr Avatar
43 months ago

kind of makes you wonder how exactly an air gap can fool the sensor. doesn’t the sensor need to read certain values to check against the saved fingerprint to see if they match?
It’s not an air gap that is fooling the sensor.

Just as some (most) clear cases have a texture to prevent the phone from having that wet bubble look, the “screen protector” in question has the same thing. The fingerprint sensor is reading that texture as the fingerprint during registration, not the users’ actual fingerprint. So, with the texture being read anyone can unlock the phone, as that pattern is what was actually registered.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Sasparilla Avatar
43 months ago

An embarrassing mess up that should never have happened... amateur your for Samsung.
And don't forget Google with their faceID without eye focus. Good thing Apple never does things like that and then drags their feet fixing them (if only I could get my MacBook keyboard keys to all work...).
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iPhone trade in

Apple Adjusts Trade-In Values for iPhones, Macs, and More

Wednesday January 25, 2023 9:40 am PST by
After announcing new Mac and HomePod models last week, Apple adjusted its trade-in values for select devices in the United States. iPhone trade-in values decreased by up to $80, and most Android smartphones also went down. Mac trade-in values remained unchanged or increased by up to $40 depending on the model, while some Apple Watch models increased in value and others decreased. Trade-in...
iphone 15 pro wifi 6e

Internal Apple Document From Leaker 'Unknownz21' Confirms Wi-Fi 6E Will Be Limited to iPhone 15 Pro Models

Friday January 27, 2023 10:01 am PST by
Multiple rumors have suggested that the next-generation iPhone 15 models will adopt the Wi-Fi 6E standard that Apple has already introduced in the iPad Pro and MacBook Pro, and now a leaked document appears to confirm Apple's plans. Sourced from researcher and Apple leaker Unknownz21 (@URedditor), the document features diagrams of the iPhone 15's antenna architecture. D8x refers to the...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple

iPhone 15 Expected to Feature Wi-Fi 6E Like Latest Macs and iPad Pro

Wednesday January 25, 2023 5:39 pm PST by
The iPhone 15 will support Wi-Fi 6E, according to a research note shared this week by Barclays analysts Blayne Curtis and Tom O'Malley. The analysts did not specify whether the feature will be available on all models or limited to the Pro models. Apple has added Wi-Fi 6E support to a handful of devices so far, including the latest 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro, 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With the New M2 Max MacBook Pro

Thursday January 26, 2023 12:14 pm PST by
New 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with the latest M2 Pro and M2 Max chips are available in Apple retail stores and are already in the hands of customers, and we picked up one of the new M2 Max machines to answer all of the questions MacRumors readers considering a purchase might have. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Yesterday, we asked MacRumors fans on...
Mac Pro 2019 Apple

Mac Pro Enthusiasts Raise Concerns Over Upgrade Limitations of Apple Silicon

Thursday January 26, 2023 6:30 am PST by
The new Mac Pro coming later this year is expected to feature the same spacious modular design as the 2019 model, but with fresh concerns over its lack of upgradeability surfacing, some users are beginning to wonder what the transition away from Intel architecture actually means for Apple's most powerful Mac. The current Intel Mac Pro that Apple sells is popular with creative professionals...
iOS 16

iOS 16.3 for iPhone Launching Next Week With These 4 New Features

Friday January 20, 2023 11:43 am PST by
In a recent press release, Apple confirmed that iOS 16.3 will be released to the public next week. The software update will be available for the iPhone 8 and newer and includes a handful of new features, changes, and bug fixes. Below, we've recapped bigger features in iOS 16.3, including support for physical security keys as a two-factor authentication option for Apple ID accounts, worldwide ...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple

iPhone 15 Pro Rumored to Have These 8 Features

Friday January 27, 2023 2:11 pm PST by
Apple's next-generation iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are expected to be announced in September as usual. Already, rumors suggest the devices will have at least eight exclusive features not available on the standard iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus. An overview of the eight features rumored to be exclusive to iPhone 15 Pro models:A17 chip: iPhone 15 Pro models will be equipped with an A17...