YOUR SMARTPHONE'S FINGERPRINT SCANNER might not be as secure as you thought, with boffins having developed a "master prints" capable of tricking the sensors.
The boffins in question, researchers from New York University and Michigan State University, exposed vulnerabilities with common fingerprint scanners in a paper published on IEEE Transactions on Information Forensics & Security.
They claim that they were able to create a set of "master prints" that bypassed the supposedly secure system up to 65 per cent of the time.
These prints were developed to take advantage of the small size of most fingerprint sensors found on smartphones, which are commonly designed rather match partial scans, rather than every individual ridge of your finger.
What's more, since many users register multiple fingerprints on a device, there are often dozens of different partial prints registered on a phone, which is good news for hackers trying to crack them.
"There's a much greater chance of falsely matching a partial print than a full one, and most devices rely only on partials for identification," said NYU's Nasir Memon, one of the authors of the study, told the Telegraph.
There's no need to panic just yet though, as the researchers only tested their findings using computer simulations, rather than on real smartphones. However, Memon warned that the technology used to create artificial physical fingerprints was improving rapidly, and said that hackers could, for example could create a glove with five different fingerprints that could get into around half of iPhones.
Apple hasn't responded to the researcher's findings but says on its website that that probability of a portion of two separate fingerprints matching in the Touch ID system is 1 in 50,000 for one enrolled finger.
This isn't the first time that alarm bells have been sounded over fingerprint scanners. Michigan State University last year managed to successfully bypass the fingerprint sensors on the Galaxy S6 and Huawei Honor 7 using an, er, inkjet printer. µ
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