I would like to ask you about some external fingerprint scanner with a higher level of security than typical built-in reader.

I have been using several notebooks with built-in fingerprint scanner but it was quite easy to cheat them (I cannot really rely on them as at the first line of defense). In many cases it was not too restrictive when it comes to accuracy of reading, even if the settings of the hardware were selected to the highest level of "security".

Do you have any experience with external fingerprint scanners? Is it worth putting some interest in this topic? Could you recommend something? The price is not the most important, what is important is accuracy (not accepting fake but resembling fingerprints).

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    What do you mean by “higher level of security”? Is this about being resistant to hardware attacks, in which case you mostly care about the security of the unit that analyzes the fingerprint and takes decisions based on that, as well as the security of the lock or whatever the system controls? Is this about not accepting fake but resembling fingerprints? Is this about telling actual fingerprints on live skin from copies on rubber or other materials? Sep 16, 2015 at 0:02
  • "Not accepting fake but resembling fingerprints" is the main reason. Sep 16, 2015 at 0:07
  • In what way is the article you cite relevant to the question? It's about a conceptual flaw in software that happens to make use of a fingerprint scanner, it isn't about the security of the hardware or even about the security of its driver. Apr 14, 2016 at 19:44

1 Answer 1


External device is per definition not secured...

In a computer it's practically saying that you'll use USB. And USB is not meant to be secure.

However you seem to have a very bad experience with internal ones which seems to be cheap ones and easily cheated.

You need to be sure that they use your veins or infrared. For having a little of security with the USB thing : be sure that it's not a device that only send "Yes/No".

Veins cannot be cheated by collecting the grease of the finger or a photo of the finger... Detection is thermal so an image cannot be presented. The only way to cheat the detection is making a 3d metal sculpture of the structure of the vein of the good finger, heat it and show it to the system ... We can say that it's quite secure.

However the USB part make the device vulnerable to man in the middle attack (witch is noticed because have an hardware between the usb port and the usb cable) and is also vulnerable to any simulation of the device (this part you can fix it by applying all the methods against brute force method)

For instance: https://solisystems.com/fingervein/index.php?gclid=CM6CuaTjg8gCFUbmwgod5XgOcA

  • Thank your for your answer. Mostly I was using Thinkpads but even with the new versions, I was easily able to cheat the reader. Surprisingly, the best experience I had was with Thinkpad T60. Check this article: blog.elcomsoft.com/2012/08/… Sep 19, 2015 at 19:12
  • Sadly : good fingerprint scanner is hard to achieve because the cheap way to do it is using image recognition. internal thermal detection is hard to achieve too due to the fact that it adds heat to the computer ... in a laptop it's unwanted. Any enhancement is achieved by tricks kept secret : It's just matter of time for them being cheated too. For instance : thefullsignal.com/apple/15853/… or security-today.com/articles/2014/09/24/… Sep 19, 2015 at 19:21

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