Samsung has said that the Galaxy S8’s iris scanner is one of the best ways to secure your smartphone, but a new video claims there’s a relatively simple hack to the scanner.
During the leadup to the launch of the S8, Samsung talked a lot about the phone’s many features, even boasting that its iris scanner was better than the FBI’s fingerprint technology. Whether or not that claim is true remains to be seen, but a recent video shows that the S8’s iris scanner has a fairly simple workaround.
The hack doesn’t require any particularly expensive technology to pull off. First, you’ll need a camera capable of taking infrared photos. A camera such as that can be obtained fairly easily.
Once you’ve taken a photo of the user’s eye you’ll need to print that out using a laser printer. It is important to make sure that you make the printout the correct size because then you’ll need to place a contact lens over the camera. The group that came up with this hack says this will give trick the scanner into thinking it is looking at an eye as it will imitate the curvature of a real eye.
Samsung has responded to the news of the hack but didn’t outright deny it was possible.
“[W]e would like to assure our customers that the iris scanning technology in the Galaxy S8 has been developed through rigorous testing to provide a high level of accuracy and prevent attempts to compromise its security, such as images of a person’s iris,” a Samsung representative told Forbes’ Ian Morris. “If there is a potential vulnerability or the advent of a new method that challenges our efforts to ensure security at any time, we will respond as quickly as possible to resolve the issue.”
Will It Work?
We haven’t tested this hack ourselves so we can’t confirm or deny how well it works. However, the fact that it requires an infrared photo of a person’s eye makes it a less-than-ideal hacking method. Most people are going to notice someone trying to get close enough to take that detailed of a photo.
With enough work, any security system can be circumvented, but the majority of people really don’t have much to worry about as we usually keep our phones with us anyway. Even if the device is stolen, it is more likely that the thief will try and reset it to factory default rather than hacking it.
That’s not to say security isn’t important, but odds are this hack won’t affect the average person.
The video, which is in German, can be seen below.