Experts Found A Serious Security Weakness Of Pixel 4's Face Unlock

Aadhya Khatri - Oct 18, 2019


Experts Found A Serious Security Weakness Of Pixel 4's Face Unlock

The face unlock on Pixel 4 works fast but it can sign you in even when your eyes are closed, which raises lots of security concerns

Google now has its own take on the face unlock technology, thanks to the piece of new tech at the Pixel 4 and 4 XL’s top bezel. It works in a similar way to Apple’s Face ID, and Google believes that it is competent enough to be the universal authentication method for Android in general, apart from letting you sign on your phone.

While this security feature works fast, Chris Fox, a reporter of BBC, said that it could even sign you in when your eyes were closed.

This is also confirmed to be true by Google in a support page about the feature. The company said that the Pixel 4 could be unlocked by another person if he or she held it up to your face, even when your eyes are closed. It also warns that users should keep the device in safe places.

Pixel-4-face-unlock

Google also confirms that the phone can unlock even if your eyes are closedOwners of Pixel 4 or Pixel 4 XL might want to strictly follow these pieces of advice as the phone can be unlocked at night when you are fast asleep by someone else.

This weakness is on the Pixel only. The Face ID of iPhones only works if the users are looking directly at the device. This feature can be disabled if owners of iPhones or iPad Pros want to, but Apple also warns that attention is vital to make sure that the device is secure.

We have no such choice on Pixel 4, at least for now. It is believed that Google is working on adding the function as we speak.

According to Fox, users will not have this feature on the Pixel 4 and 4 XL when they are shipped to them next week. Google has not yet confirmed if the option will come to its handsets or not. A company's spokesperson said in an email that Google had no exact timing for a patch but as with other software, that of Pixel 4 would get better over time.

Screenshot 18

If you are wondering what all the fuss about Pixel 4 can unlock when the user’s eyes are not open is. This can make it easier for the authorities to access the devices they seize even without the consent of the owners, and for some people to snoop on their partners or friends. All they have to do is to point the device at the owners' faces.

However, there is a way future owners of the Pixel 4 can protect their devices before Google comes up with a solution for this flaw.

Google also offers a more traditional way you can secure your phone, which is to disable all kinds of biometric unlock and use the PIN system instead. You can also have lockdown in the power menu options for quick access on Pixel phones.

Pixel-4-lockdown
Lockdown can be a viable solution until Google comes up with a way to fix this issue

On iOS, you also have a similar function. All you have to do is to press and hold the power button and either of the volume buttons. You will then see the power down menu and vibration. Now, until you enter the correct PIN, the Face ID is disabled.

Here is the guide on how to add lockdown shortcut on Android 10, the OS the Pixel 4 will have out of the box:

  • Access Settings.
  • Select Display.
  • Open up the “Advanced” section, you can find it at the bottom.
  • Choose the “Lock screen display.”
  • Now turn on the “Show lockdown option.”

Lockdown can disable both the face unlock and smart lock, as well as prevent any notification from showing on the lock screen.

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