A recent investigation by Blackwing Intelligence, conducted in collaboration with Microsoft’s Offensive Research and Security Engineering group, has uncovered significant vulnerabilities in Windows Hello’s fingerprint authentication system. Presented at Microsoft’s BlueHat conference, the research demonstrated how the fingerprint authentication on certain laptops could be bypassed, potentially allowing unauthorized access.
The vulnerabilities were found in three specific laptop models: a Dell Inspiron 15, a Lenovo ThinkPad T14, and a Microsoft Surface Pro 8/X, each using fingerprint sensors from different manufacturers (Goodix, Synaptics, and ELAN, respectively). The researchers, Jesse D’Aguanno and Timo Teräs, pointed out that these security flaws stem from issues in the communication between the software and hardware, rather than Windows Hello or fingerprint technology itself.
The bypass techniques involved manipulating the fingerprint sensor’s data. In one method, an attacker could use a Linux boot to rewrite the sensor’s data, allowing unauthorized access. Notably, this attack could be executed while the computer is on, using a man-in-the-middle (MITM) device, making it more challenging to prevent.
Despite these vulnerabilities, Blackwing Intelligence clarified that full-disk encryption and BIOS passwords could still provide effective security measures, as exploitation is less feasible if the machine cannot boot to the point where fingerprint authentication is available.
The researchers urged manufacturers to use Secure Device Connection Protocol (SDCP) and properly integrate sensor chips with Windows to address these security gaps. They plan to provide more detailed information about the vulnerabilities they discovered in the future, underscoring the ongoing importance of cybersecurity vigilance in the face of evolving threats.
Sources include: The Register