Google Galaxy Nexus security flaw using face unlock

Hello everyone,

Today I was playing MW3 on my Playstation3 and I thought it would be nice to have the online players face somewhat showing on the screen, I was imagining how this could be done so I look for inspiration on my newest gadget the GALAXY NEXUS which just arrived a few days ago.

One of the functionalities I like the most is the face recognition feature and I use it from day one.

But first let me tell you what i think about the Galaxy Nexus, I’m so thrilled with it that i don’t see any negative spots yet, the one i can remember it’s also a positive thing and is it’s size.

Apart from that the screen is simply astonishing and the speed and easy to use make this phone a rock star, I know this isn’t an objective review on the mobile phone but this post is not intended to be a review.

On the other end there is a functionality that is also a very big security flaw – FACE UNLOCK.

Google warns you about face recognition not being the safest of methods to unlock your phone, but nevertheless you can pass the locking feature just by using any other photo of you.

I used my photos to unlock the phone and I had about 80% success with a couple of face photos, nevertheless I didn’t succeed with the profile photo (maybe the resolution was too low, on the smaller picture). This trick took me less than a minute to accomplish.

It’s not an high tech hack, and it probably works if your phone is stolen or lost, but it won’t save you from your jealous girlfriend (or boyfriend), won’t save you from your dads or sons. In the end it’s way too easy for someone familiar with you to access your personal data if you use face unlock.

Maybe this could be fixed using the phone proximity sensor that could be used to determine the distance of the phone to the face (i was only successful using the phone about 10-15cm from the monitor), also recording the phone relative inclination with the face and finally by detecting any type of movement on the moment the face is being verified.

Despite one of the biggest innovations being a big “no go” at least in my opinion, I still love my Nexus.

That’s all folks,

Pedro Oliveira

Galaxy tab 10.1 – User review

Once again I’m writing about stuff I recently bought. This time it’s about my Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (LTE, 16GB storage).
I’ve bought it 2 months ago (more or less) and it’s been my companion since, it’s my favorite gadget and the one i use more when I’m not working. So… why do i like it this much, what is it’s strengths and weakness?

Strong points:

  • Size and looks
  • Processing power and available ram
  • Applications available
  • Net
  • Display quality and resolution
  • Sound quality including microphone
  • Flash availability
  • Cameras quality despite low resolution
  • Battery endurance
  • Easy root access

Weak points

  • Samsung software including slow update release cycle and specially touchwiz
  • Android honeycomb (I’ll explain this afterwards)
  • Connectors place (some on the top, some at the bottom)
  • 16GB storage (I never found the 32 GB available on stores (LTE version)
  • No sdcard slot (although there’s an external adapter)
  • No USB mass storage availability (that’s really annoying)

Apps that I really enjoy:

  • Angry birds
  • Astro
  • Better Terminal
  • Bloomberg
  • Dolphin Browser
  • Evernote
  • ezPDF reader
  • Facebook
  • Firefox
  • HP Home & Biz (for printing support)
  • LogMeIn
  • Network Info II
  • Network Mapper
  • OpenVPN
  • PressReader (a must)
  • RomManager (a must)
  • ScreamingNetTools (a must)
  • Skype (a must have)
  • SuperUser
  • Thumbs keyboard
  • Titanium Backup
  • Torque (if you like to control your car with your mobile/tab)
  • WifiAnalyser
  • X Construct
  • and many others 🙂

The galaxy tab is great and I love it. it has a large display that allows you to see perfect high def. movies during a flight, the battery run for 12+ hours (in flight mode), I’ve also about 50 apps that complement my tab usage so I find the apps availability very good. I also enjoy the freedom that LTE (4G,3G) gives me while on the road.
I also enjoy the ability to use it for remote access to servers (MS and Linux), it’s my first gadget where i can really do some work for a while without getting too tired (if you use ssh on your mobile phone you know what I mean).
Another good thing about the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is that I almost don’t use my laptop at home, it’s perfect for browsing the web and replying email, but better that it all it’s the newspaper and magazine applications that allow me to read all the things I want without carrying too much stuff with me.

But, and there’s always a but, Samsung and Google fail on this device and it’s software. Samsung uses touchwiz on top of honeycomb, and thats a pain, then the kies software for the desktop is only available on windows, and to finish it Google didn’t release the source code for honeycomb.
Most of the bad things on this device don’t affect the regular, non informed user but they limit the hardware usage where you don’t have the freedom to choose the type of installation you like, you’ll have a hard time to compile your own kernel modules and to tune your hardware as you like it. All this is more of Google fault than Samsung but there’s hope with ice cream sandwich (android v4).
on Samsung I complain on the slow release cycle and on their Touchwiz software that is a piece of crap, also the desktop software is also buggy and slow (I just used it twice though).
Whenever I need to transfer a file to the Galaxy Tab I use an ssh server on the Tab and send the file through wireless connection with scp or rsync.

To finish I recommend this to everyone, it made my life easier both on the professional side as well at home, it’s a great product, well build with quality components and very easy to use.
Now I only hope Samsung do a better work on the software side, the device is sure worth it.
Pedro Oliveira

OpenSuSE Linux on Sony Vaio VPCSB – User Review

Hi today I was using my new laptop (well it has about 1 month now) and I thought in sharing my usage experience with it. My Vaio is a VPCSB and I run it with OpenSuSE 11.4 X86_64.
I have a thing for Sony Vaios, this one is my 4th. I like Vaios for their build quality, looks, performance and size as I also travel quite a bit.
I’m not a gamer at all so what I value for my computer usage is:

1 – Size (13 inches or smaller)
2 – Weight (2Kg or lower)
3 – Looks
4 – Display quality
5 – Battery endurance
6 – Performance (CPU, Memory, IO)
7 – Number of IO ports (USB, VGA, DVI, Network cards, DVD or Blue-ray in this case, GSM card)
8 – Extras (Illuminated keyboard, hybrid video systems, etc)
9 – And the most important item… Linux compatibility as it will be my choice OS

So after breaking my old Vaio display, I researched a lot (and not only Vaios), I bought this VPCSB, my expectations were very high as my last laptop, a Vaio SZXN was (and still is because it was fixed) an excellent laptop. It worked flawlessly for 4 years with about 12 hours run everyday, lots of traveling, lots of airplane usage and with minor upgrades on memory (2GB ram to 4GB) and a major upgrade this year on the hard drive where I bought a Samsung high performance SSD.
Well, back to the new computer let’s start on the hardware listing (including lscpi and lsusb output):

CPU:  Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-2410M CPU @ 2.30GHz

00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation 2nd Generation Core Processor Family DRAM Controller (rev 09)
00:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 2nd Generation Core Processor Family PCI Express Root Port (rev 09)
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation 2nd Generation Core Processor Family Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 09)
00:16.0 Communication controller: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family MEI Controller #1 (rev 04)
00:1a.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family USB Enhanced Host Controller #2 (rev 04)
00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family High Definition Audio Controller (rev 04)
00:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port 1 (rev b4)
00:1c.1 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port 2 (rev b4)
00:1c.2 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port 3 (rev b4)
00:1c.3 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port 4 (rev b4)
00:1d.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family USB Enhanced Host Controller #1 (rev 04)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation HM65 Express Chipset Family LPC Controller (rev 04)
00:1f.2 SATA controller: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family 6 port SATA AHCI Controller (rev 04)
00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family SMBus Controller (rev 04)
01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc NI Seymour [AMD Radeon HD 6470M] (rev ff)
02:00.0 Network controller: Intel Corporation Centrino Wireless-N 1000
03:00.0 Unassigned class [ff00]: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. Device 5209 (rev 01)
04:00.0 USB Controller: NEC Corporation uPD720200 USB 3.0 Hayt Controller (rev 04)
05:00.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL8111/8168B PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet controller (rev 06)

Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 8087:0024 Intel Corp. Integrated Rate Matching Hub
Bus 002 Device 002: ID 8087:0024 Intel Corp. Integrated Rate Matching Hub
Bus 001 Device 003: ID 08ff:168f AuthenTec, Inc.
Bus 001 Device 004: ID 0c45:64b5 Microdia
Bus 001 Device 007: ID 05c6:9225 Qualcomm, Inc. Sony Gobi 2000 Wireless Modem
Bus 001 Device 006: ID 0489:e00f Foxconn / Hon Hai Foxconn T77H114 BCM2070 [Single-Chip Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR Adapter]
Bus 003 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 004 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0003 Linux Foundation 3.0 root hub

So running with Linux (OpenSuSE) what works and what doesn’t work?
Easy there are only 2 things that aren’t running on Linux:
1 – Finger print reader (Bus 001 Device 003: ID 08ff:168f AuthenTec, Inc. )
2 – Touch-pad with multi-touch although it works fine with single-touch
Maybe the multi-touch function can be activated but to be sincere I didn’t pay much attention to it.
The fingerprint is not working due to Sony (they are failing on us here), the multi touch has a signed firmware that doesn’t allow any application to use it, so it needs a Sony interface application to communicate with the system.

What runs and should have trouble running?
The webcams are known to be prone to have trouble and this one works like a charm.
The internal GSM card also works perfectly in Linux (ID 05c6:9225 Qualcomm, Inc. Sony Gobi 2000 Wireless Modem), just a note, I disabled the PIN request on the ISP chip, I did this because from time to time I lost communication with the GSM device after suspending to ram or disk.
The Ati Radeon card works really well with the fglrx driver (even the hybrid features).

What didn’t I tested / used till now:
I never tried to use the blue-ray functions, I’ve recorded and CDs and DVDs but never used blue-ray disks (I just have some Playstation 3 games on blue-ray)

User experience and usability:
Let me say it this way… I LOVE MY NEW VAIO!
It’s small yet powerful, it has a nice amount of ram, fast SSD, good battery life. The display is great, altought the view angles aren’t that good.
In what concerns to mobility I can’t find anything better, I really like the Intel wireless device (supporting 801.11B,G,N), the GSM card it a major feature and it’s a really nice feature to have if you move a lot, and the usual ethernet port also deliveries good performance.
What I don’t like at all are the mouse buttons, they are hard to press and noisy. The same happens to the fan if you’re running at full speed (like compiling a kernel), it will get noisy, but you’re just working on Libreoffice, using FireFox it will be just fine.
On the other hand the lightened keyboard is great for working late at home or in the plane, you’ll not be searching for keys anymore.

Do I tell you to buy this one?
YES, it’s small, fast, pretty and it will deliver, you’ll be able to work full days on this one without miss your desk computer 🙂

PS – What do I like more than my new Vaio?
My new tablet, I’ve also bought a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 but I’ll write about it sometime.
Pedro Oliveira


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