Samsung recently started rolling out the January 2021 Android security patch to its smartphones. The latest security update has already hit the Galaxy S9, Galaxy S10, Galaxy S20, and the Galaxy Note 20 series phones in some markets. The company has now detailed the contents of this release and it reveals a major issue with the Galaxy Note 20 fingerprint scanner.
According to the official bulletin, the January 2021 Android security patch for the Galaxy Note 20 phones contains the fix for an issue that caused "false recognition" of the fingerprint scanner. It was an "abnormal behavior" with screen protectors, resulting in a high FRR (false rejection rate) of fingerprint identification.
This essentially means the device would not properly identify an authorized fingerprint. Although this wouldn't have likely resulted in unauthorized access, issues with biometric identification are always alarming. Thankfully, Samsung was quick to fix it.
Galaxy Note 20 phones had a major fingerprint issue
Samsung doesn't go into details about the root cause of this fingerprint issue with the Galaxy Note 20 series. The company simply says it was a "moderate" level issue that was privately disclosed by a security researcher identified as DB back in October 2020. The device seemingly had trouble dealing with certain kinds of screen protectors.
On that note, it once again reminds us that biometric authentication isn't the safest authorization or unlocking method to use in smartphones. They certainly aren't a true alternative to the more traditional methods, such as a PIN or a password.
This issue apparently only affected the Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra devices running Android 10. The January 2021 Android security patch fixes this issue for them. Samsung started rolling out the latest update for the 2020 S Pen wielding phones earlier this week and it should be globally available over the next couple of weeks.
Back in October 2019, a similar fingerprint issue was also reported with the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note 10 phones. Samsung quickly acknowledged the issue and released a fix for it. The company has now fixed the issue with the Galaxy Note 20 phones as well.
The January 2021 Android security patch also contains fixes for several other vulnerabilities. The release fixes one critical and dozens of high-risk vulnerabilities with Android OS. Additionally, it fixes nine moderate and high-risk Samsung Vulnerabilities and Exposures (SVE) items as well. SVEs are software flaws specific to Samsung smartphones.
As said earlier, Samsung has already rolled out the January 2021 Android security patch for several flagship models. The update should hit more Galaxy smartphones in the coming weeks.