Critics take aim at S9 face recognition security
06 March 2018 08:12 GMT

Researchers have said that the new facial recognition technology inside Samsung's Galaxy S9 range uses the same security safeguards as its previous generation smartphone, the suggestion being the company has prioritised features over user safety.

'Intelligent Scan' was initially billed as being a smarter version of Samsung's facial unlock system that's fitted to the S8, and while it certainly boasts faster processing and iris scanning that works as a backup if the first scan fails, the technology can still be fooled relatively easily.

The Galaxy S9 uses its camera to create a 2D map of a user's face, the same process used by the S8, which was famously fooled into unlocking a device from a photograph. Apple's Face ID, in contrast, creates a 3D map.

Jan Krissler, part of the hacking group Chaos Club that first highlighted the S8's security flaw, told CNET that the group wouldn't try to hack the S9 because there have been few changes to the technology in the past year. "There is no fun in hacking just a new release of the same system," he is quoted as saying.

Other researchers, including global data analyst Avi Greengart, argued that Samsung was still playing "catch up" with Apple on facial recognition, as the latter has "invested an enormous amount of money, time and effort into Face ID". This is despite the fact Samsung had a working version of the technology first with the S8.

While Samsung has allegedly done little to make Intelligent Scan more secure, the upgrade does make it far easier to use. In order to increase the accuracy of each scan, the S9 will map a user's face first before moving to an iris scan if it is initially unsuccessful. If conditions aren't ideal, such as poor or bright lighting, the system will combine the two to improve results