Your smartphone may be far less secure than you think, according to worrying new research that exposes a major flaw in fingerprint sensors.
The scanning technology used to lock and unlock a number of popular devices can be tricked by cybercriminals using sophisticated new tools, according to leading security researchers.
That means that even locking your device with a fingerprint may not be enough to secure it against criminals.
Another key feature of your phone has now be found to be a security risk The biggest cyber-attacks, hacks and data breaches Wed, March 15, 2017
From viruses to data breaches, cyber-crime is far from a modern invention – here is Express.co.uk's list of some of the biggest attacks in history.
Play slideshow GETTY 1 of 13
Google's Chinese operations were targeted in 2009
The news was revealed by researchers at New York University and Michigan State University, which found that fingerprint scanners could be tricked through a devious scheme.
The teams were able to develop a set of “master fingerprints” which could unlock a device up to 65 per cent of the time.
Although the tests were only carried out on computer simulations, rather than actual devices, the researchers claim that criminals could be able to replicate the master prints soon.
Apple uses fingerprint scans in its Touch ID system
The researchers noted that they were able to access many devices due to the way that many modern smartphones are designed and built.
Most new devices pack in a small fingerprint reader to conserve space, meaning that the sensor often scans different parts of a user’s print to ensure speedy unlocking.
Get Quotes on Home Insurance
However this means that only a partial scan of the finger or thumb print needs to be recognised as a match in order for the device to be unlocked.
Many systems also store scans from more than one finger, making it more likely that a ‘master print’ would be able to unlock a device.
The news comes shortly after researchers revealed that hackers could be able to gain access to your smartphone simply by monitoring how you hold your device.
Experts from Newcastle University found that criminals are able to use the motion sensors embedded in many modern phones and tablets in order to “listen in” on how you use your phone.
Gathering data from sensors involved with features such as GPS, cameras and microphones, the research team was able to discover a wealth of private information, including PIN numbers.
If you think you’ve been the victim of a cyberattack, check out Express.co.uk’s guide on the next steps to take here.