Galaxy S5 Fingerprint Scanner Faces Scrutiny

No phone says “futuristic” quite like a finger scan lock, but is the technology as secure as it sounds? Just a week since Samsung’s Galaxy S5 was released a company says they’ve broke past the finger security.

We’ve all seen the ease of Hollywood actors fooling fingerprint scanners. Just some baby powder and tape, right? The Galaxy S5 uses a fingerprint in place of a password. A Berlin-based Security Research Labs used a mold recently rejected by an iPhone 5S attempt. After taking the print directly from the screen the company was able to access the phone. It’s still a process that’s out of a street criminal’s league. However, if fingerprint technology becomes mainstream then criminals can be expected to adjust.

“Samsung could have enforced a password [lock-out] after five failed swipe attempts,” project manager Ben Schlabs said about the S5. “But the way it works is that if it fails five times and asks for a password, if you just turn the screen off and back on again you can have another try.”

That in itself isn’t such an issue for the Galaxy S5. Getting past a finger scan is at least as hard or harder than guessing the pass code. What does have analysts concerned is the option for third parties to use the scanning technology to substitute their passwords. Among the first to jump on board for the future of password security has been PayPal. With “the touch of a finger” Galaxy S5 owners can check their balance history as well as both send and request payment. This puts money accounts directly in danger of being accessed by hackers.

“While we take the findings from Security Research Labs [SRL] very seriously, we are still confident that fingerprint authentication offers an easier and more secure way to pay on mobile devices than passwords or credit cards,” the PayPal payment firm reported about the S5. Plus, even if users were hacked Paypal says it would cover their losses.

Security is a high priority for both companies and individuals, and it looks like fingerprint scans are the way of the near future. Already fingerprint scanners are used in phones and laptops, often paired with facial recognition software. As the technology is applied and further developed we can expect to see more uses. The possibilities of ATMs and banks adopting the software is high. While consumers, businesses and analysts are right to be skeptical, it’s exciting to see Hollywood-worthy security coming to everyday consumers.