Insecurity Behind the “Always-On” Feature on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1

Qualcomm has just introduced its newest system on chip (SoC), namely Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. This chipset for the flagship mobile segment is equipped with a number of improvements compared to its predecessor, Snapdragon 888.

One of them is in the camera aspect, which is now equipped with an “Always-On” image processing processor (ISP), the always-on sensor for the purpose of automatically unlocking the phone and an anti-peek screen.

Your phone’s front camera is always safely looking for your face, even if you don’t touch or lift your phone to activate it,” said Judd Heape, Qualcomm vice president of product management.

Not long after it was reported, this modern feature of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 camera caused users to stress since it was said to be a protection risk. Why is that? the main reason is that it is feared that this feature will always record images through the camera even when the phone is not being used by the user. The data collected by the Always-On camera feature is also feared to be shared with third parties or misused.

How the feature works?

Qualcomm designed the Always-On camera feature in this Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 camera to make it easier for users to unlock their phones using face unlock technology. With this include, users now not have to be bother tapping the screen or picking up their phones to open their phones. Since the Always-On camera include will effectively identify the user’s face.

When a face is recognized, the phone lock will be consequently opened. Alternately, when the user’s face isn’t recognized, the phone will be locked once more.

Because it always tracks the user’s face, the Always-On camera feature can also detect the face of a stranger who might be peeking at the user’s phone. This is where the Always-On camera feature differs from Face Unlock in general. When someone else’s face is detected, the Always-On camera feature on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset can automatically lock the phone or hide notifications from showing on the screen. So, strangers can’t see the user’s phone screen.

Potentially hacked

Smart CCTV cameras and smart doorbells are also constantly on, to track certain activities or even faces. There are numerous reports of security breaches and hacks utilizing social building procedures to actuate keen CCTV cameras when they are not gathered to be on. Data from the hacked CCTV cameras is then sent to a remote server without the homeowner’s knowledge. This potential hack is also possible in the Always-On camera feature on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1.

Don’t worry, the feature can be deactivate

Although this feature is present in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, another vice president of product management at Qualcomm, Ziad Asghar said that users have the option to disable the Always-On feature on their phones.

Another possibility is that the Always-On camera feature may not have been included by the smartphone vendor from the start. Given that vendors such as Samsung, OnePlus, and Xiaomi can customize the features on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset which they want to include and which they don’t.

Leave a Reply