I've ordered a new laptop and it has a fingerprint scanner built in.
Naturally I want to use it but I am required to encrypt my drive. Can the password be hacked from the fingerprint files?
Should I add a second layer of encryption for all work related documents?
I want to use fingerprint-gui to get it to work and I'll be running ubuntu 16.04.

I am aware of the possibility of lifting prints from anywhere of the laptop but I'm not going that far. All I want to know is what would happen if someone got physical access to my hard drive.

  • I don't think the fingerprint scanner would be much security. What does it lock? The OS or the bios? or will it not even turn on without the scan? If it only locks the OS then you will need encryption too because anyone can access your file if the have physical access to the laptop. If someone just got your HDD and plugged it in to another PC, this scanner would do nothing for you. – Mark Kirby Sep 9 '16 at 8:42
  • I usually don't go for the 'full disk' encryption and only encrypt my home drive where my important files are located. The built in fingerprint scanner combined with the fingerprint-gui program would be able to log into my account (and thus unlock my home folder). I was wondering if the password stored by the fingerprint-gui was securely stored and couldn't be retrieved by getting access to its database. – Akisame Sep 10 '16 at 14:42
  • If you believe that you should change your password occasionally , then you really shouldn't use your fingerprint as a password, unless you plan on getting new fingerprints (or fingers) occasionally. – Xen2050 Sep 19 '16 at 20:27

I have since found my answer: If I encrypt my home drive fingerprint-gui will not work unless I save the password in an encrypted format on a external drive. However the encryption format used (at least the one I found) is rather outdated and has known exploits making it insecure to use for encryption.
Another way is to simply use the gnome keyring (which is encrypted by default). That way I first need to login using my password before the fingerprint scanner becomes usable (which is more secure).


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Since you want to keep your Hard Drive data or anything safe don't allow anyone to boot your laptop.Set up the BIOS password(Also Hard-Drive password).No one can enter into your system without BIOS password..set it through BIOS menu of your device(there is always a shortcut key to enter in BIOS Menu depending on the device, google it;)) .. Fingerprint is obviously less secure ..i set BIOS password to my laptop with OS individual password (windows and Ubuntu separate passwords).. :) ..just don't forget BIOS password

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  • ..........The reason people set up bios passwords is to prevent people from booting a flash drive which in turn can be used to explore your files. The reason why ubuntu allows people to encrypt their home directory is to counter this attack vector while retaining the ease of use of not having to use a password in the middle of your boot routine and again a different password to actually login. Taking this into account your answer makes no sense......A bios password isn't going to stop anyone from gaining access to your files. – Akisame Sep 10 '16 at 15:37
  • Of course you could use a full disk encryption but having to type in a password every time you boot excessively prolongs your boot-time (I boot in about 3-5 seconds which would change to ~30 seconds with full disk encryption). So I encrypt my home directory which in turn gets decrypted during login. I asked: "Can the password be hacked from the fingerprint files?". The answer to that question is "Yes, unless you store it in your gnome-keyring and don't use the fingerprint scanner to login" – Akisame Sep 10 '16 at 15:42

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