PSA: Your Note 8's Face Unlock can easily be fooled

It's not secure, no matter what your phone tells you.

Sean Hollister Senior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Sean Hollister
2 min read

Did you just buy a Samsung Galaxy Note 8? Are you or is one of your friends or family planning to?

Here's an idea: Maybe don't rely on facial recognition to secure your phone. Because as this hilarious video shows, it's painfully easy to fool:

Mind you, this particular security weakness isn't exactly news. We said the same thing about the Samsung Galaxy S8 in April, when it was shown to have the same vulnerability, and flat photos have fooled many an Android phone in the past too. 

It's also important to note that Samsung doesn't typically claim the feature is bulletproof: The company told CNET in reference to the Galaxy S8 that facial recognition is meant to be convenient, not secure.

But clearly, Samsung's own Note 8 didn't get the memo -- because as you can hear in the video embedded above, the phone itself claims that Face Unlock is "more secure than using your PIN." That's not true, and Samsung plans to fix the message soon. 

We tried it on our own Note 8, and sure enough, it's still possible to fool it with a flat photo. A Samsung rep tells CNET that the company's guidance remains the same: You'll want to use the fingerprint sensor or iris scanner for security, and should view facial recognition as a convenient alternative to the simple swipe-to-unlock gesture.

By the way, it is technically possible build a facial recognition system like Windows Hello that isn't fooled by flat photos. Samsung just didn't do that here.

17 hidden Galaxy Note 8 features

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