Hackers can abuse Galaxy S6 fingerprint tech

Security research firm FireEye has revealed the Samsung Galaxy S6's fingerprint scanner is flawed, meaning hackers could steal the personal information stored on the device.

Yulong Zhang and Tao Wei, researchers at the company said personal data could be intercepted before it reaches a secure area on devices, allowing hackers to siphon it off.

The flaw is present in all devices running Android version 5.0 or older if the hacker was able to gain high-level access to a device. However, for those using Samsung Galaxy S5 devices, the issue is even more worrying, because hackers could potentially get fingerprint data by accessing the device's memory.

The research, to be presented at the RSA security conference in San Francisco today, revealed that criminals could create a fake lock screen that would make the user think they are unlocking the device when really they are authorising a payment.

Alternatively, hackers could over-ride the owner's fingerprint data with their own, meaning users are denied access to their own device, but criminals could use it instead for their own means.

All devices running on Android 5.0 and below are open to such attacks, but the update to Android 5.1.1 corrects this issue, FireEye said.

Because the flaw lies in the operating system rather than the device itself, FireEye said other Android-based fingerprint readers could be at risk too.

In April last year, the Samsung Galaxy S5's fingerprint reader was hacked by another set of security researchers who wanted to demonstrate how easy it was to over-ride the security measure.

Samsung said it takes its customers' security seriously and would investigate into the claims by FireEye.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.