Feeds

UPEK fingerprint scanners insecure, says Elcomsoft

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

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
Jihadi terrorists DIDN'T encrypt their comms 'cos of Snowden leaks
Intel bods' analysis concludes 'no significant change' after whistle was blown
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
China hacked US Army transport orgs TWENTY TIMES in ONE YEAR
FBI et al knew of nine hacks - but didn't tell TRANSCOM
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.