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ICE Unlock app adds fingerprint ID to Android devices

By

January 30, 2014

The ICE Unlock app serves the same purpose as a physical fingerprint scanner

The ICE Unlock app serves the same purpose as a physical fingerprint scanner

One of the big selling features of phones like the iPhone 5s and the HTC One max is their ability to verify the identification of the user by scanning their fingerprint. While those phones use a built-in scanner to do the job, Diamond Fortress Technologies' new ICE Unlock app lets Android mobile devices do the same thing, but using their camera.

Users initially start out by enrolling the print of their own index finger as the one that will unlock the phone. From there, every time they want to use the phone, they hold their index and middle fingers 4 to 6 inches (7 to 13 cm) in front of the rear camera, then line things up so that the pad of their index finger fills an oval indicator on the app screen. Once the camera has focused and taken a still, and the app has compared the image to the template it has on file, the phone should unlock.

It reportedly doesn't matter if the finger skin is dirty or scratched, although should the app not unlock the phone, users can still access it via a PIN.

One of the claimed advantages that ICE Unlock has over a scanner is the fact that while scanners can get covered with skin oil and become unreliable, the app doesn't require any touching of the lens. Additionally, users don't have to wonder if they're applying the right amount of pressure, as they would with a scanner.

ICE Unlock is available now for free via Google Play, and is reportedly compatible with a wide range of Android devices.

Source: Diamond Fortress Technologies

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
6 Comments

It seems like an interesting app, but why on earth does it require the Full Network Access permission? There is no way in hell I am going to use a free app which catalogs my fingerprints AND has the ability to access the network.

Ben Chernicoff
30th January, 2014 @ 04:51 pm PST

With all the news of NSA spying going on, why are people lined up to hand over biometric data to corporations that will gladly sell or give it away? Sorry, but, I'm not going to help them spy on me.

Ken Dawson
31st January, 2014 @ 12:40 am PST

The two comments above are completely correct, I had not even finished reading the title before I was thinking of how to go about hacking and swapping fingerprint images for the owner's image. Experience has shown that pretty much any lock can be picked.

StWils
31st January, 2014 @ 09:47 am PST

Hello.

I very much appreciate your concerns. Let me try to address them:

-The reason the app requires network access is only for the serving of ads.

-Fingerprint images aren't stored anywhere - not even on your phone. The image is converted to a mathematical template (from which you cannot reconstruct your fingerprint), and that template is used for comparison.

-We will never give or sell your information away.

Our EULA wasn't clear enough on some of your very valid points, and has been revised to go out with future updates.

Yes, any lock can be picked, eventually. But ICE Unlock is designed to give you an additional layer of security for those who want it. We are also constantly working to make it more secure.

Thanks for your interest and for sharing your concerns.

--Mac - Diamond Fortress Technologies

Mac@DiamondFortressTech
31st January, 2014 @ 11:36 am PST

Wrong - ICE is the OPPOSITE of an "additional layer" of security.

You have *added* an EXTRA way for people to hack phones (fingerprints) to the already existing password unlock.

Doing this REDUCES security guys.

And seriously, what is the probability that the owners fingerprint will exist somewhere on a stolen phone?

Not smart. Heck - Apple did this last year - didn't you read any of the ridicule they suffered?

christopher
31st January, 2014 @ 06:22 pm PST

I apologize, Christopher. I don't think I was as clear as I should have been in my previous comment. As I said, every lock is pickable. We are trying to make it as difficult as we can for someone to have unauthorized access to your device. By adding ICE Unlock to run in tandem with one of Android's integrated security methods, you are providing two doors for someone to get past rather than one.

We understand the authorized user will have most likely have left a latent fingerprint somewhere on the device. And in theory, I believe a slight possibility exists that someone could lift that print, photograph it, process the image so ICE Unlock could read it, acquire it through ICE Unlock, and perhaps bypass the security we offer. This is pretty unlikely, as most latent fingerprints do not cover all of the area ICE Unlock needs to verify. And the majority of latent fingerprints are of much lower quality than ICE Unlock is used to dealing with because of smudges/overlapping prints, etc.

The latent fingerprint comes from the finger pad pressing on the screen or other are of the phone. This distorts the fingerprint due to the irregular pressure applied. Since ICE Unlock is touchless, we don't have to worry about pressure issues. It is probable (but not impossible) that the latent fingerprint method would not be accepted by our software anyway.

Ultimately, someone would have to go through a lot of work to have a very small chance of bypassing ICE Unlock, and they would still have to get past the integrated Android security if it were also running.

We are also improving this every day. Updates have been coming out at least once a week, and each one makes ICE Unlock harder to bypass/hack/spoof/whatever.

Thanks for your concern, and If you have any ideas or suggestions as to how we could make ICE Unlock better, we would love to hear them. Nothing is perfect, especially when it is just out of the gate. But with input from people like you and the hard work we are putting in, it will hopefully keep getting better. -- Thanks,

Mac

Mac@DiamondFortressTech
6th February, 2014 @ 11:10 am PST
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