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

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