Google announced the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL only a few days ago with pre-orders already going live. However, the search engine giant’s new flagship device is already facing some security issues even before users have got their hands on them. As per a report in BBC News, the company confirmed that Google Pixel 4 unlock via facial recognition technology allows people to unlock their phone with their eyes closed. This could lead to major vulnerabilities, by easily bypassing the unlock pattern.
Aside from bypassing the algorithm, the risk also includes that someone else could unlock the phone with the owner being asleep, or not even alive, if they were to place the front-facing camera in front of the owner’s face. This is a major breach in security when compared to, for example, Apple’s Face ID that has been active on the recent iPhone models. Apple’s algorithm uses the person’s eye retina, which requires their eyes to be open at the time of unlocking the phone.
The company told BBC News that this is how the phone is supposed to work, meaning that users don’t need to be awake in order to unlock the phone.
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“Google has confirmed the Pixel 4 smartphone’s Face Unlock system can allow access to a person’s device even if they have their eyes closed,” it says in the report
According to Google, those who are concerned about the Google Pixel 4 unlock can instead enable the Lockdown Mode, which will disable biometric security checks and use more traditional unlocking patterns, without worrying about their phone being unlocked with eyes closed. Nevertheless, Google assured its users that the algorithm can’t be fooled by photos, with plans to continue upgrading Facial Unlock in the future.
“If someone can unlock your phone while you’re asleep, it’s a big security problem,” cyber-security expert Graham Cluley told BBC News. “Someone unauthorised – a child or partner? – could unlock the phone without your permission by putting it in front of your face while you’re asleep.”
Perhaps Google will decide to address this issue in the future updates of the Android operating system, as many users aren’t ready to have their privacy so easily exposed. BBC’s journalist Chris Fox even demonstrated the Google Pixel 4 unlock in a video posted on Tweeter where it’s easily noticed the phone was unlocked with eyes closed.
— Chris Fox (@thisisFoxx) 15 October 2019
Other than this issue, how do you like the Pixel 4? They come with an enhanced camera, Motion Sense, which lets you manipulate the phone without touching it, new color and enhanced Google assistant shipping with Android Q. The phones are already available for pre-orders, and if you pre-order the device before it goes on sale, Google says that you can get $100 to spend on various accessories that are available on Google Store.