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Lenovo sticks with face recognition tool

PC maker will not recall affected laptops despite claims its Veriface is among face recognition technologies that can be bypassed, but improvements are on way.
Written by Vivian Yeo, Contributor

Despite claims that the security of its Veriface face recognition technology can be manipulated to gain unlawful access, Lenovo is keeping current notebook models equipped with the technology in the market.

In an e-mail interview with ZDNet Asia, a Singapore-based Lenovo spokesperson said it has "no plans to pull affected models". However, the PC maker will continue to upgrade the face recognition technology.

The technology's vulnerability was demonstrated back in December, by the Bach Khoa Internetwork Security (BKIS) center in Hanoi, Vietnam. At the Black Hat security conference last month, researchers Nguyen Minh Duc and Bui Quang Minh presented a paper (PDF) that detailed face authentication and the bypass.

According to the paper, tests were performed on Asus, Lenovo and Toshiba laptops fitted with 1.3 megapixel cameras. The bypass model illustrated that a user was able to log into the Windows Vista machines using photos or videos to initiate a face recognition process.

"All the applications tested are of their latest versions and are set to Highest Security Level," the researchers wrote in the paper. The technologies were identified as Asus SmartLogon V1.0.0005, Lenovo Veriface III and Toshiba Face Recognition 2.0.2.32.

Nguyen and Bui added: "Veriface is in fact the least secure of the [three applications] as we can log into the account using a plain image of the owner without much effort."

Lenovo, its spokesperson noted, offers face recognition technology "as an alternative security option for consumers who would like the convenience of not having to remember yet another password". Within the region, Veriface technology is available in Lenovo's IdeaPad notebooks and netbooks as well as its IdeaCentre desktops.

He added: "Like all technologies, early adoption reveals initial issues that are improved over time and Veriface, which is only used in our consumer range of notebooks, continues to be upgraded. Our advice to concerned consumers is to take basic safety measures to limit their vulnerabilities--store your notebook securely.

Asus and Toshiba did not respond to similar queries from ZDNet Asia.

Asus, Lenovo and Toshiba are said to be the only three vendors offering face recognition technology. Hewlett-Packard announced last year HP Labs had developed facial recognition technology in collaboration with Tsinghua University in Beijing.

However, a Singapore-based spokesperson confirmed that there are no HP products with face recognition technology in the region. At the time of writing ZDNet Asia was unable to determine the company's reason for not offering such technology.

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