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Bypassing Windows Hello Authentication in Microsoft, Dell, Lenovo Laptops

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In-depth Analysis: Bypassing Windows Hello Authentication in Microsoft, Dell, Lenovo Laptops

Recent cybersecurity research conducted by Blackwing Intelligence, under the aegis of Microsoft’s Offensive Research and Security Engineering (MORSE), has revealed significant vulnerabilities in the Windows Hello fingerprint authentication system. These vulnerabilities were identified in devices including the Dell Inspiron, Lenovo ThinkPad, and Microsoft Surface Pro X laptops.

During the investigation, Blackwing’s Jesse D’Aguanno and Timo Teräs specifically focused on embedded fingerprint sensors manufactured by ELAN, Synaptics, and Goodix. These Match-on-Chip (MoC) sensors, despite their individual microprocessors and storage enabling secure on-chip fingerprint matching, exhibited flaws in the communication protocol with the host device.

The study highlights a critical gap in the MoC sensors’ defense mechanism. Although these sensors are designed to safeguard against the replay of stored fingerprint data, they are not inherently protected against a malicious sensor that impersonates legitimate sensor-host communications. Such a vulnerability could potentially lead to unauthorized user authentication.

To mitigate these risks, Microsoft developed the Secure Device Connection Protocol (SDCP). This protocol was designed to validate the trustworthiness of the fingerprint device and safeguard the data transmission between the fingerprint sensor and the host system. However, the study demonstrated that SDCP‘s implementation was not uniformly applied across devices.

Using advanced man-in-the-middle (MiTM) attack techniques and a custom-configured Raspberry Pi 5 device, the research team was able to bypass Windows Hello authentication on all three laptops. The approach involved intricate software and hardware reverse-engineering, cryptographic analysis of Synaptics sensor’s custom TLS protocol, and decoding proprietary communication protocols.

The researchers revealed that on Dell and Lenovo laptops, the bypass was executed by replicating legitimate user IDs and enrolling an unauthorized fingerprint. The Synaptics sensor’s reliance on a custom TLS stack instead of SDCP for USB communication security was a contributing factor to this vulnerability.

On the Surface Pro X, which featured an ELAN sensor devoid of SDCP protection and using unencrypted USB communication, the researchers disconnected the sensor-containing Type Cover. They then spoofed fingerprint sensor data, sending valid authentication responses from the simulated device.

The researchers noted that while Microsoft’s SDCP was a robust design for secure communication, its effectiveness was compromised by inconsistent implementation and a limited operational scope by device manufacturers. They underscored the necessity for manufacturers to enable and properly integrate SDCP in biometric solutions to effectively counter such cybersecurity threats.

With the increasing reliance on biometric authentication, as evidenced by Microsoft’s report of a significant rise in Windows Hello usage, these findings underscore the critical need for rigorous security measures in biometric technologies.

For more in-depth analyses and updates on cybersecurity breakthroughs and vulnerabilities, visit, where we provide comprehensive coverage on a variety of cybersecurity topics.

Cogeanu Marius
Cogeanu Marius
Marius Cogeanu is a distinguished IT consultant and cybersecurity virtuoso based in Prague, Czechia. With a rich 20-year journey in the IT realm, Marius has carved a niche in network security and technological solutions, adeptly harmonizing tech with business requirements. His experience spans from Kyndryl to IBM, and as a valued independent consultant, where he's renowned for his innovative approaches in enhancing business operations with cutting-edge tech.Marius's forte lies in demystifying complex IT concepts, ensuring clarity and alignment for stakeholders at all levels. His commitment to staying at the forefront of industry trends and seeking innovative solutions cements his status as a go-to expert in cybersecurity. Driven by a fervent passion for technology and its potential to revolutionize businesses, Marius thrives on tackling challenging ventures, applying his prowess in network design, IT service management, and strategic planning.Currently, Marius is focused on leading-edge IT project management, infrastructure design, and fortifying cybersecurity, guiding clients through the intricate digital landscape with unmatched expertise and insight.Discover more on


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