Microsoft Windows Hello is officially the most secure face recognition system on Windows laptops
Microsoft Windows 10 has been commercially available for almost a month, and consumers curiosity about what to expect from the range of upcoming laptops shipping pre-loaded with Windows 10 is mounting.
As the first waves of new devices hit the market, one of the hot-button issues hinges on security, especially when it comes to brand new features rarely seen in consumer laptops, such as biometric recognition options offered by Windows Hello.
Windows Hello aims at eliminating the need for passwords, with a different process of identification based on facial, fingerprint and iris recognition. Face recognition in Windows Hello is provided by an Intel RealSense 3D camera, which is actually three devices into one:
- An infrared sensor, designed to detect changes and variations in skin pigment, and other environmental factors.
- A regular sensor to capture real-time images.
- A 3D camera, which performs spatial analysis to ensure that the image detected is not a photograph or video footage.
Last week, senior technology journalist Chris Griffith, from The Australian has finally answered the question on everybody’s mind about just how well Windows Hello performs when it comes to identical twins.
During his reportage, Griffith queried the Australian Twin Registry, to put Windows Hello to the test. The six sets of identical twins attempted to log into Windows, using Intel RealSense 3D cameras using a Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14.
As Griffith points out, failing the “Twin Test” would be a huge blow for Microsoft, as one in 40 people has an identical twin to match. Yet, it seems that Windows Hello was quite up to the task.
During multiple trials, the respondents tried to fool the camera by rearranging their hair, makeup and accessories, to resemble their corresponding sibling, and even then, Windows Hello was able to tell the difference and grant access only to the rightful owner of the account.
The great thing about Windows Hello is the fact that the cryptographic key necessary for authenticating a user into Windows is not stored online, but rather on the user’s computer, which means that cyber-criminals would have to steal the physical device, in order to even being able to attempt a login. Even in such case, it’s impossible to fool the software with a photograph or video footage, as the 3D cameras and infrared lens are capable of detecting three-dimensional objects, change in skin pigmentation, and especially the lack of thereof.