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Galaxy S5 Fingerprint Sensor is Easy to Hack

by Jacob Kleinman | April 15, 2014April 15, 2014 10:00 am PDT

Apple was hit with some harsh criticism after releasing the iPhone 5s over reports that its Touch ID fingerprint sensor was easy to hack compared to a traditional keypad password. Six months later, Samsung released the Galaxy S5 with a fingerprint reader of its own, though it appears the company may have ignored the same mistakes made by its biggest rival. A new video from SRLabs shows how to hack the Galaxy S5 with the same method used on the iPhone 5s.

It didn’t take long for the German security research firm to uncover the hack, which lets anyone spoof the sensor found in the Galaxy S5 using a wood glue mold and a fingerprint found on the device. SRLabs notes that the same exact mold was used on the iPhone 5s, meaning Samsung failed to beef up its security compared to Apple. It also makes it easier for potential thieves to target both devices rather than being forced to focus on one or the other.

The fingerprint hack could be even worse for Samsung though, thanks to built-in PayPal support which allows you to make online payments by swiping your finger across the phone’s home button. The Galaxy S5’s fingerprint sensor took several swipes to work during our tests, which means a thief won’t get locked out as quickly if the first few attempts to spoof the device don’t work.

Back when the iPhone 5s first hit the market, Apple was quick to note that the fingerprint hack wouldn’t be an issue for the vast majority of users. Samsung is likely to say something along the same lines in response to today’s news. For anyone who makes privacy and security a priority, however, it may still be too soon to embrace fingerprint scanners in mobile devices regardless of who’s behind the technology. TechnoBuffalo reached out to Samsung for comment but a spokesperson was not immediately available.

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Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...


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