A Pixel 4 flaw was reported even before the device rolls out to users.
Evidently, its “enhanced” facial recognition works even if the user’s eyes are closed, posing potential security issues.
Pixel 4 Facial Recognition
BBC reporter Chris Fox was the first to observe the flaw in Pixel 4’s facial recognition feature when he was able to unlock the Pixel 4 even if his eyes were closed. In fact, the feature worked even when the user pretended to be asleep, and the results were the same even after being tested on several people.
Proof, for those asking #madebygoogle #pixel4 pic.twitter.com/mBDJphVpfB — Chris Fox (@thisisFoxx) October 15, 2019
This means that potentially, someone could simply put the phone in front of a sleeping or unconscious Pixel owner to unlock it, and they could have full access to the device and its contents.
The flaw is problematic not just for privacy reasons, but because the feature can also be used for confirming payments and signing into apps.
‘Require Eyes To Be Open’
Google has confirmed the issue, and it is stated in the Google Pixel 4 support website that the facial recognition will unlock the phone even if the user’s eyes are closed, when the user looks at their phone even without intending to unlock it, if someone else holds the phone to the owner’s face, or even by someone who looks very much like the owner.
It is worth noting that previously-leaked images of the Pixel 4 showed a “Require eyes to be open” setting in the facial recognition menu. However, it was not in the unit lent to the BBC, and it will also not be in the Pixel 4 units rolling out on Oct. 24.
That said, Google stated that it will continue to improve Face Unlock and that for the meantime, owners concerned about the security of their phones could enable the “lockdown mode” which would temporarily deactivate Face Unlock, or they can opt to delete their face data to turn the feature off completely.