UPEK fingerprint scanners insecure, says Elcomsoft

Dell, Acer, ASUS, Lenovo, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba may use holey biometric kit


Spines in laptop vendor-land are shivering right now with the news that fingerprint scanners from UPEK take users’ Windows passwords and dumps them in near-plain-text in the registry.

The security howler was turned up in the UPEK Protector Suite, which until recently shipped with laptops using the company’s scanners. While the software was replaced following the merger of UPEK and Authentec, Elcomsoft’s post notes that most users will not have installed the new software.

“UPEK’s implementation is nothing but a big, glowing security hole compromising (and effectively destroying) the entire security model of Windows accounts,” wrote Elcomsoft’s Olga Koksharova.

“Windows itself never stores account passwords unless you enable “automatic login”, which is discouraged by Microsoft,” she wrote, however: “After analyzing a number of laptops equipped with UPEK fingerprint readers and running UPEK Protector Suite, we found that your Windows account passwords are stored in Windows registry almost in plain text, barely scrambled but not encrypted.”

Elcomsoft identifies Dell, Acer, ASUS, Gateway, Lenovo, MSI, Samsung, Sony, NEC, Toshiba and others as current or former UPEK customers. Lenovo says in a support forum post that it is investigating the issue; The Register’s searches of the other vendors’ sites doesn’t turn up any other responses as yet.

There are two requirements for the vulnerability to be exploited: the user has to be using the fingerprint scanner as their default Windows login, and an attacker would need physical access to the machine. Elcomsoft recommends that users disable “Windows login” in the UPEK Protector Suite. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Deepfake attacks can easily trick live facial recognition systems online
    Plus: Next PyTorch release will support Apple GPUs so devs can train neural networks on their own laptops

    In brief Miscreants can easily steal someone else's identity by tricking live facial recognition software using deepfakes, according to a new report.

    Sensity AI, a startup focused on tackling identity fraud, carried out a series of pretend attacks. Engineers scanned the image of someone from an ID card, and mapped their likeness onto another person's face. Sensity then tested whether they could breach live facial recognition systems by tricking them into believing the pretend attacker is a real user.

    So-called "liveness tests" try to authenticate identities in real-time, relying on images or video streams from cameras like face recognition used to unlock mobile phones, for example. Nine out of ten vendors failed Sensity's live deepfake attacks.

    Continue reading
  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading
  • Conti: Russian-backed rulers of Costa Rican hacktocracy?
    Also, Chinese IT admin jailed for deleting database, and the NSA promises no more backdoors

    In brief The notorious Russian-aligned Conti ransomware gang has upped the ante in its attack against Costa Rica, threatening to overthrow the government if it doesn't pay a $20 million ransom. 

    Costa Rican president Rodrigo Chaves said that the country is effectively at war with the gang, who in April infiltrated the government's computer systems, gaining a foothold in 27 agencies at various government levels. The US State Department has offered a $15 million reward leading to the capture of Conti's leaders, who it said have made more than $150 million from 1,000+ victims.

    Conti claimed this week that it has insiders in the Costa Rican government, the AP reported, warning that "We are determined to overthrow the government by means of a cyber attack, we have already shown you all the strength and power, you have introduced an emergency." 

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022