A woman in Castleford, UK, discovered that a £2.70 ($3.40)
full screen protector for her Samsung Galaxy S10 allowed everyone access via
the thumbprint authentication.
Thumbprint authentication is now a widely used form of security,
also used in essential services such as online banking. Phone manufacturers and
users alike put a lot of faith into it, so any failures cause serious concern.
The latest Samsung Galaxy S10 comes with an in-display
fingerprint reader. This technology was announced a long time ago, but it took
a while for manufacturers to make it work. The placement of the new fingerprint
reader means that Samsung can leave the back of the phone clear, except for the
According to a media report,
UK resident Lisa Neilson said that, after she fitted a gel cover on her Samsung
Galaxy S10, anyone holding the phone was able to access it. Some people
speculated that her initial fingerprint was trapped between the display and the
cover, but the situation is a little bit more complicated.
The fingerprint reader in the Samsung Galaxy S10 is built
by Qualcomm and uses sound waves to map the surface of the fingerprint. When
those waves travel through yet another medium, like a screen protector,
A Forbes story
says that a Chinese manufacturer of cheap screen protectors found out the hard
way that their products wouldn’t work on new S10 phones. So they made some changes
to the gel surface to accommodate the new fingerprint reader, but in doing so
provided access to anyone trying to use the phone.
Samsung’s initial reaction was to say that people should
use only authorized accessories, but that’s not really the main issue. In
theory, if you’re phone is stolen, the thief would only have to slap a gel
cover on to access your device.