Hacker Discovers Lock Screen Bypass Bug That Affects All Google Pixel Phones

Fortunately, the bug was fixed in the security update rolled out on November 5, 2022.


Google Pixel 7 series was launched earlier this year in India and a few other markets. The Pixel 7 series came with incremental upgrades over the outgoing models launched last year. While the Pixel 6 series did not officially launch in India, reports online suggested that its fingerprint scanner was not the most secure. Google apparently fixed that with the Pixel 7 series but it looks like your phones are not as secure.

An ethical hacker has found a lock screen bypass bug that affects all Pixel phones. David Schutz spotted the concerning issue on his Pixel 6. However, the hacker believes that the vulnerability exists in all Pixel phones. Fortunately, the bug was fixed in the security update rolled out on November 5, 2022.

Google Pixel Phones Fingerprint Scanner Vulnerability.

Ethical hacker David Schutz claims that a bug, which has now been fixed, could let anyone bypass the lock screen on all Google Pixel smartphones.

“The issue allowed an attacker with physical access to bypass the lock screen protections (fingerprint, PIN, etc.) and gain complete access to the user’s device. Schutz stated that this vulnerability is tracked as CVE-2022-20465 and it might affect other Android vendors as well.  

Schutz found the bug accidentally while he was sending a text message on his Pixel 6, which had a 1 per cent battery left. After the battery died, he connected the phone to the charger and booted it up. Schutz noticed that the Pixel 6 asked for the SIM’s PIN code upon booting up. He entered the incorrect code thrice, following which the device required a Personal Unlocking Key (PUK) code to unlock and work again. 

After entering the PUK code, the Pixel asked him to set a new PIN, and that’s when Schutz noticed something was odd. Upon fresh boot, the Pixel lock screen was showing the fingerprint icon, instead of the usual lock screen which requires you to enter the PIN. Schutz claimed that the device accepted this fingerprint, which should not have happened after a fresh boot. “After accepting my finger, it got stuck on a weird “Pixel is starting…” message, and stayed there until I rebooted it again,” he added.

To be sure this was not a one-time issue, the ethical hacker ran the same process multiple times, only to get the same result. In one of the tests, the phone glitched and opened the home screen instead of the usual lock screen. He claims to have performed the same process on his Pixel 5 and got the same results there too.

“Since the attacker could just bring his/her own PIN-locked SIM card, nothing other than physical access was required for exploitation. The attacker could just swap the SIM in the victim’s device, and perform the exploit with a SIM card that had a PIN lock and for which the attacker knew the correct PUK code,” Schutz said in his blog post.

Schutz contacted Google, who stated that he was the second person to send this bug report. as a reward, the company gave him $70,000 as it was his report that got them started to work on the bug. 

Now that Google has fixed the bug, it is advised to update to the latest November security patch that is being rolled out to eligible Pixel phones. You can watch the video below to see Schutz reproducing the bug on his Pixel phones.