Samsung has issued an official statement addressing the recently discovered security flaw of its Galaxy S10 and Note10 fingerprint scanning systems, advising users of these devices (and their counterparts, the Note10+, S10+, and S10 5G) to avoid the use of protective cases until Samsung has issued a software security patch. The software update could arrive this week, the company said.
The security issue concerns the Samsung devices’ in-display fingerprint scanning systems and the use of “certain silicone screen protecting cases”, as Samsung put it. Reports emerged earlier this month of unauthorized users accessing devices protected by these cases through a fingerprint scan, essentially rendering the biometric security useless.
Samsung says that the error stems from the fingerprint scanning system “recognizing 3-dimensional patterns” that appear on these screen covers; and it advises users to delete all of their fingerprint data from their devices, and to register their fingerprints again once the new software patch has been released. And it’s asking users to be thorough about it, advising in its statement, “please be sure to scan your fingerprint in its entirety, so that all portions of your fingerprint, including the center and corners have been fully scanned.”
The fiasco could have an impact on consumer perceptions about in-display fingerprint scanning, which multiple smartphone brands have embraced over the past year as a means of signalling their devices’ technological sophistication. Meanwhile, the other popular biometric modality on smartphones, facial recognition, continues to become a more prominent security component on premium smartphones, though it has its own technical issues, as evidenced in the recent concern over the Pixel 4’s lack of any kind of ‘attention aware’ feature.