Yubico has announced a new line of security keys that lets you unlock accounts with a fingerprint. With older YubiKeys, logging in requires putting in a PIN and then tapping the key, but the new version can authenticate with just the tap (though the option to put in a PIN is still available if you’re wearing gloves or your fingers are wet). The convenience does come at a premium — the USB-A version of the YubiKey Bio costs $80, and the USB-C version costs $85.
The YubiKey Bio series acts like a regular security key, so it can help you either log on to services without having to deal with passwords or act as a second factor in addition to something like a password or authentication code from your phone. Either use style can help you avoid phishing attacks, and the YubiKey Bio can be used with a wide range of applications and services, including 1Password, Google Chrome, Microsoft accounts, Twitter, and more.
In technical terms, it supports FIDO Universal Second Factor and FIDO2/WebAuthn, so anything that supports those standards should be good to go with it. Yubico does say, though, that its Bio keys currently don’t support the OTP or Smart card standards.
It’s worth noting that the Bio keys also don’t support NFC, so iPhone may want to consider other options to avoid carrying a USB-to-Lightning dongle. Yubico offers its 5C NFC key for $55, though it doesn’t support bio-authentication. Google also offers a USB-C/NFC key for $35, though it’s currently out of stock. However, for those who want a security key that lets them log in with a fingerprint, YubiKeys are widely regarded, and now, there’s an even more convenient option.
TLDR: The D’CENT Biometric Crypto Hardware Wallet is the world’s safest crypto handling device, using your own fingerprints to securely save and access all of your digital currency.
Programmer Stefan Thomas has a big problem. Back in 2011, he was given over 7,000 in a new fangled currency called Bitcoin, which he stashed in a digital wallet and mostly forgot about. But years later, that Bitcoin is now worth almost $400 million. Unfortunately, Thomas long ago lost the password to that wallet — and now has only two tries left to unlock the wallet before the encryption tech inside erases everything, including Thomas’ $400 million windfall.
As it turns out, Thomas’ problem isn’t unique. Cryptocurrency firm Chainalysis estimates about 20 percent of the existing 18.5 million Bitcoin — valued at around $140 billion — are in lost or otherwise stranded digital wallets.
The D’CENT Biometric Crypto Hardware Wallet ($105 after code WALLET14 from TNW Deals) is the first hardware wallet that protects cryptocurrencies using biometrics…so no one will ever lose a fortune over a password again.
Of course, the D’CENT doesn’t actually hold the digital currency itself. It holds the all-important public and private transaction keys that actually give a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin its value. Sized no bigger than your garage door remote, this Bluetooth and USB-connected wallet is the world’s most advanced cryptocurrency hardware wallet, utilizing Multi-IC architecture to enact ultra-tight security over the contents of your wallet.
But rather than enter passwords and codes to access your transaction keys, the D’CENT is the first device of its kind to actually read your fingerprint instead. That insures only you and you alone can ever access and use your funds. Even if someone picked up and walked off with your $400 million D’CENT wallet, they could never get to the money in your account without your unique fingerprint.
Unlike other devices that make you do all your transactions through an app, the D’CENT actually has a large OLED display of its own, giving you a full view of your accounts and recent transactions, right from the device.
As for compatibility, the D’CENT is playing in the big leagues, capable of holding and securing all of the world’s most popular cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, XRP, Ethereum, ERC20, and many more with new ones added regularly.
Retailing for $119, you can now save $14 off the price of the D’CENT Biometric Crypto Hardware Wallet just by using the code WALLET14 when you make your purchase. That will drop your final price down to only $105.
A staple on smartphones for a few years now, it has only been recently that personal computers have started embracing fingerprint scanners for security. Actually, the hardware has become more prevalent in laptops but has left desktop PCs out of the party. USB fingerprint scanners do exist but most of them are designed to connect closely to laptops only. Kensington is aiming to change that by bringing a desktop version of VeriMark Fingerprint Key to the market.
Kensington first revealed its fingerprint key solution back in 2017 and it was clearly meant for laptops that didn’t come with their own built-in sensors. Small enough to attach to a keyring without looking out of place, the VeriMark Fingerprint Key’s design meant it can only be close to a USB port. For desktops whose USB-A ports are mostly located on their backs, that’s almost as bad as not having a fingerprint scanner at all.
In contrast, the new Kensington VeriMark Desktop Fingerprint Key has a 3.9-foot USB cable so that it can be placed anywhere convenient. In fact, its design, which allows it to be placed on any flat surface, and 360-degree readability means it can be placed in any which way you prefer.
While the form might be different, the VeriMark Desktop Fingerprint Key still offers the same secure protection as its laptop predecessor, certified for both FIDO U2F and WebAuthn uses and complying with many government standards for security and privacy. Being a desktop authentication device, it is also compatible with both Windows Hello as well as Windows Hello for Business.
For desktop users who want a stronger but also more convenient form of security, the Kensington VeriMark Desktop Fingerprint Key is now available for purchase for $74.99. And in case you’re wondering, your fingerprint is stored securely on the device, not on your PC, to prevent accidental leaks of fingerprint data, including those from unsecured fingerprints.
Windows Hello is Microsoft’s biometric sign-in option for Windows 10, allowing you to sign in with a fingerprint or face ID. However, if you have an older computer or one without the right features, these Hello sign-in options may not be available to you. That’s where fingerprint scanner accessories come in.
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to find the right scanners for the job. Not all of them work with Windows Hello, and some are cheap knockoffs that aren’t worth your time. To help out, we’ve created a list of the best fingerprint scanners that are guaranteed to work with Windows Hello, starting with an excellent Verifi P5100 USB model.
Verifi specializes in sturdy, reliable fingerprint scanners, particularly for desktop models: The exceptional PF5100 model uses a large silicon sensor, which is more accurate than optical sensors and even manages to give the all-metal design some style.
The Verifi P5100 is compatible with password managers and even comes with a free download for the password manager Roboform. For setup, just log into Windows 10 and search for biometric devices to start the process. It’s ideal for protecting business or personal desktop computers, but the price may be a little high for some buyers. The wired design also makes this model more difficult to use for laptops.
PQI Mini USB Fingerprint Reader
Small USB readers are designed to fit onto laptops without being a burden: Many of them are so small that you can leave them and still fit your laptop into a case or bag without problems. PQI offers one of the best of these models, a fast and tiny reader that’s entirely compatible with Windows Hello.
You can program it with up to 10 different fingerprints to allow others to access your laptop as needed. The PQI Mini USB Fingerprint Reader can also help you automatically encrypt files if you want to set up the software, although this part isn’t necessary for operation. PQI calls their fingerprint reader the fastest in the world, and while that’s hard to prove, it really does just take a fraction of a second to read a fingerprint, which does help speed up the login process.
Kensington VeriMark Reader
This tiny, portable Kensington reader comes with a keychain fob so you can easily take it off and store it when on the go – although it’s small enough that you may not need to.
In addition to Windows Hello compatibility, the Kensington VeriMark Reader also comes with FIDO second-factor authentication, which is used to protect and access cloud files on Chrome. Encryption is also used to protect all the fingerprint data held on the reader. It’s a bit more expensive than other compact option, but the extra security features make it well worth it.
Lexar Jumpdrive Fingerprint Reader
Lexar’s approach to a fingerprint reader offers an additional benefit that could be just what you want: The fingerprint scanner is connected to a jump drive that offers 64GB of extra storage. Files on the drive are encrypted with 256-bit AES encryption, and yes, you can use both the fingerprint reader and the drive at the same time. You can program it with up to 10 fingerprints as well.
The 64GB size is a strong middle-of-the-road option, but you can choose bigger or smaller storage sizes if you prefer. Regardless of what storage size you choose, the Lexar Jumpdrive Fingerprint Reader comes in one standard size that will protrude from your laptop’s USB port, so you can’t leave it in when you’re packing up your device.
The DigitalPersona reader is compatible with desktop computers, so it’s geared for businesses that want a durable fingerprint reader. There are a lot of purposes you can use this reader for, and it’s compatible with Windows, so it’s the ideal choice for PC desktops.
The software can be difficult to install, so unless you’re well versed in IT skills, you might not want to choose it for your home computer. The DigitalPersona Reader also includes a blue LED light so you know when it’s working, a surprisingly comforting feature.
Stock Android hasn’t always kept up with the trends and development in biometric security. Fingerprint remains its strongest supported system and even then it only supports the traditional optical sensors on the back of phones or under power buttons. Face recognition is still the same crude one from years ago and not the hi-tech radar-based implementation that the Pixel 4 flaunted two years ago. Now it seems that Google is finally embracing the now-common under-display fingerprint scanning technology in Android 12 but it might also be exclusive to what will eventually become the Pixel 6.
Given how many smartphones there are with in-display fingerprint scanners, some might be surprised to hear that Android itself, at least the “pure” Android that comes from Google, doesn’t actually support the technology. In a nutshell, this means that each OEM rolls out their own proprietary implementation and that Custom ROMs that base their code on the Android Open Source Project or AOSP don’t have any such access.
The latest developer previews for Android 12 hinted that Udfps, short for “Under-display fingerprint scanner” is coming to the latest version of Google’s mobile platform. Back in the first dev preview, it wasn’t clear whether this would be available to AOSP or a Pixel exclusive. With DP2, however, XDA spotted hints that this feature is instead intended “com.google.android.systemui”, meaning it is specifically for a Pixel phone only.
The switch to using a fingerprint scanner comes at a time when facial recognition technologies on phones are unable to cope with people wearing face masks for protection. It’s still puzzling that Google took this long to finally add support for these under-display sensors but, then again, it has always been slow to jump on trends anyway. That is unless it creates its own, like the Soli-based facial recognition on the Pixel 4.
That said, this implementation does have one drawback, at least for third-party ROM makers and perhaps other OEMs. It still isn’t generic support for the technology that all Android developers will be able to hook into, leaving them to still rely on different implementations for now.
Samsung today announced that it will be producing a biometric credit card that includes a built-in fingerprint scanner for increased security. This project still seems to be in the early stages, as today’s announcement covers a memorandum of understanding signed by Samsung Electronics’ System LSI Business, Mastercard, and Samsung Card to develop such a credit card. So, with that in mind, it’s safe to say that this credit card is probably some time off.
Still, the prospect of a biometric credit card is an exciting one, as that built-in fingerprint scanner can help ensure that transactions are secure and authorized at the point of transaction. “Through this strategic collaboration, the companies aim to provide faster and more secure payment experiences,” Samsung said in a press release today. “The biometric authentication capability allows safer interactions with reduced physical contact points by eliminating the need to enter a PIN on a keypad. It also adds an extra layer of security to currently available credit cards by verifying the cardholder’s identity via a unique fingerprint.”
Details on the card are still fairly slim, but we do know that they will use a security chipset development by Samsung’s System LSI Business and that they’ll be usable at any POS or terminal that’s compatible with chip-based Mastercards. It is worth pointing out that Mastercard has worked on developing biometric credit cards in the past, so now it seems that technology is coming to fruition.
So, when will we begin to see it roll out? Samsung Card will handle the roll out first in South Korea at some point later this year, but for now, that’s the best launch timeline we’re getting. Regular consumers might need to wait longer than that, as Samsung said today that rollout will be a “gradual process” that will probably begin with corporate credit cards as those are more frequently used internationally.
That means we could be into 2022 before Samsung begins offering this card to consumers, and it could be even longer than that before the card is available in areas outside of South Korea. We’ll let you know when more is shared about this new Samsung Card, so stay tuned.
Facial scanners and time-of-flight cameras may be the way of the future, but until we get there, fingerprint scanners are still the most popular way to lock down our personal data. And like fingerprints themselves, all scanners are not created equal. So we put them to the test in a variety of popular phones!
Samsung’s newest handset dispenses of the physical scanner on the back of the phone for a far more cutting-edge one. Inside the Galaxy S10+’s display you’ll find an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor that uses sound to read the ridges in your fingerprint.
The OnePlus 6T also has an in-display fingerprint scanner, but it uses Qualcomm’s optical sensor. That means it uses a brief burst of light to illuminate your fingerprint and allow the scanner to read it.
Up until the Galaxy S10+, Samsung used a physical fingerprint scanner just like every other Android phone. On the Galaxy S9 it’s positioned a little higher than it is on other Android phones, but it’s way better than it was on the Galaxy S8, when it was to the right of the camera lens.
Apple was one of the first phone makers to bring a fingerprint scanner to a phone in Touch ID, and from the iPhone 5s to the iPhone 8 it remained inside the home button below the screen. The iPhone 6s is a three-year old phone, but it uses the same second-gen scanner as the last iPhone to feature a fingerprint scanner, the iPhone 8. The only difference is that the button on the iPhone 6s is the older one that clicks, rather than the solid-state one on the iPhone 7 and 8.
The first test I ran was a pure speed test: To see how fast I could unlock each phone 10 times. To keep it uniform, I used two hands: One to unlock and the other to turn the screen on and off. My dominant hand was positioned over the respective sensor to reduce fumbling, and I used three step for each phone:
Press the power button to turn the screen on.
Unlock the phone with my fingerprint.
Press the power button to turn the screen off.
And I repeated that 10 times for each phone. I ran the test a couple of times to get an average and scored the best times. I restarted the test when there was a missed scan, but I let the opening animation finish before I turned the screen off.
The next test was a little less methodical. Basically, I wanted to see how the sensors would work in three relatively common conditions: water, soap, and debris (in this case, powdered sugar). It didn’t time the tests, but I tracked how many times each phone was able to unlock when my finger was wet, soapy, and powdery. To conduct the test, I filled three cups filled with water, soapy water, and powdered sugar, and I dipped my scanning finger in each of them, tried to unlock each phone a number of times, and then repeated.
The least scientific but more important test I ran was accuracy. I wanted to see how quickly I could take each phone out of my pocket and unlock it, taking all variables into account. Like the speed test, I performed the test several times and took an average. For each phone, I put it in the same pocket (my right), with the top of the down facing down and the screen facing away from my leg. Then I reached inside, took it out, and unlocked it, stopping the timer as soon as the home screen appeared. I grabbed it the way I normally would and kept my eyes closed to try to make it a true test of how accurate I needed to be and how easy the sensor is to find without looking.
As you can see in the video, the iPhone was the easy winner when it came to speed. Apple was one of the pioneers of the fingerprint revolution, and its scanners have always been among the fastest around. The size of the scanner also helps, as does the placement below the screen.
The OnePlus 6T performed well too. I used it in a well-lit room, which helps the optical scanner do its thing, but I was still impressed with how quickly I was able to unlock each time as if the sensor was physically under my thumb. The physical sensor on the Galaxy S9 brought up the rear, though that’s partially due to Samsung’s somewhat slow animations. But even with my finger positioned directly above it, the scanner on the S9 is on the small size and it’s pretty high on the back of the phone, making it a little trickier to hit.
The biggest surprise was the Galaxy S10+. While it technically beat the S9 and I was generally able to unlock it 10 times in less than 20 seconds, I seriously had to concentrate to make sure my thumb was strategically placed over the scanner. The slightest deviation caused a false reading. If this is going to be Samsung’s method going forward, it’s going to need some refinements in the Galaxy Note 10 and S11.
All of the phones unlocked with my finger caked in powdered sugar. The physical scanners struggled a little—and I had to clean the crevices of sugar when I was done—but all in all, you shouldn’t worry if you’re eating a donut and need to unlock your phone in a pinch.
Water and soap are another story. Neither the Galaxy S9 nor the iPhone 6s unlocked at all with wet fingers, and the OnePlus 6T struggled too, unlocking only after my finger was wiped down. But the Galaxy S10+, while not guaranteed to unlock, was the only one that was able to read my non-dry fingerprint with any regularity. So that’s definitely a benefit of Samsung’s in-display sensor over the traditional way of doing things.
In the all-important accuracy test, the iPhone 6s was the only phone I was able to unlock in less than 2 seconds (1.5 to be exact), but the OnePlus 6T wasn’t far behind at exactly 2 seconds. The Galaxy S9 took a little longer at 3 seconds—again due to its awkward placement—but the S10+ was the big loser here, taking more than twice as long to go from pocket to use.
And that represents my best time. I fumbled more with the Galaxy S10+ than any other phone here, and not because of its size. Samsung’s whole in-display system is temperamental, with very little room for error. OnePlus’s optical scanner is far more forgiving, and I’m not really sure what Samsung gained by going this route other than a slightly cleaner back. It may feel like next-generation tech in theory, but it’s clearly a step backwards in usability.
While the iPhone handily won overall, it’s got the oldest sensor here and the only one that isn’t made anymore. That speaks volumes for Apple’s engineering: Apple has such faith in Face ID as a superior and more secure method of unlocking and authenticating, it abandoned one of the best fingerprint sensors on the market.
We can also glean some data on in-display sensors. Out of the gate, the optical scanner on the OnePlus 6T is better than the ultrasonic scanner on the Samsung Galaxy S10+, but it’s hard to say whether that’s due to the placement, size of the scanner, or the overall implementation of the system. Also, Samsung’s animations were consistently slower than OnePlus’s and Apple’s, making the whole system feel even slower than it should, even when it unlocked on the first try.
All in all, it very much feels like a first-gen sensor, which is in itself a step backward. The Galaxy S9 and S8 might have suffered from weird placement of their sensors, but once muscle memory adjusted, the mechanism was solid. With the Galaxy S10+, it’s basically a guess as to where to put your finger—and more often than not, I missed. And without any other secure option—including the iris scanner that debuted on the S7—the experience on the S10+ is less than great.
In short, we need a 3D facial-scanning solution for Android phones. While Huawei has one on the Mate 20 Pro and LG introduced a time-of-flight sensor on the G8, Face ID has yet to be mimicked in a mainstream way. And it needs to happen. Compared to the iPhone XS, all of the fingerprint scanners here feel like old tech, but only Apple has moved on to something better.
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While it does look significantly different from the outside, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is, to some extent, an incremental upgrade compared to its predecessor. Almost all the internal components have been upgraded, as one would naturally expect, with only a few notable standouts. One of those is, of course, the display panel that’s now compatible with an S Pen stylus. The other noteworthy upgrade is the fingerprint scanner, something you won’t see unless you tear down the phone first.
As we’ve already seen, opening up the Galaxy S21 Ultra can be quite a chore though not exactly impossible. JerryRigEverything’s Zack Nelson notes that the odd contoured shape of the camera actually helped in making the process a bit easier. Everything else is held down by screws, except for two important parts.
The battery is unsurprisingly glued down strongly without any pull tabs to help yank it away. Careful application of heat and isopropyl alcohol does the trick but not without great difficulty. Unfortunately, that means replacing that component will be risky and expensive.
Underneath the battery lies the next-gen ultrasonic fingerprint scanner that is touted to be faster and more accurate than the criticized version last year. The YouTuber already proved that deep scratches over it aren’t enough to throw it off. Hopefully, neither will screen protectors.
All in all, the Galaxy S21 Ultra teardown was a pretty uneventful affair, but that isn’t exactly a good thing. On the one hand, it does mean that very few things have changed compared to the Galaxy S20 Ultra last year in terms of repairability. On the other hand, that does mean Samsung’s flagship still isn’t that repairable in the final analysis.
WhatsApp has announced new security features for its web and desktop versions that make it easier for users to login securely. WhatsApp Web and desktop now supports both face and fingerprint unlocking when linking devices. WhatsApp does note that it never sees your face or fingerprint data.
The new biometric options are available in the latest version of the application, and there’s a full instruction sheet on how to activate the feature. Users will need to open the app on the phone and tap more options on Android devices or go to settings on the iPhone. Android users can then click Link A Device and follow the on-screen instructions to activate biometric authentication if their phone supports those features.
iPhone users can tap Link a Device and then tap okay, and users on iOS 14 or higher can use Touch ID or Face ID to unlock. Users can also select the Keep me signed in option on the QR screen of the computer or Portal to stay logged in on the device and use their phone to scan the QR code on their computer.
WhatsApp says that authentication is handled by the device operating system and uses biometrics stored there. It’s unable to access any biometric information stored by the device operating system. WhatsApp has seen large numbers of users leave the app in recent weeks.