Windows Hello Enhanced Sign-in Security

Windows Hello enables a user to authenticate using their biometrics or a PIN eliminating the need for a password. Biometric authentication uses facial recognition or fingerprint to prove a user’s identity in a way that is secure, personal, and convenient. Enhanced Sign-in Security provides an additional level of security by leveraging specialized hardware and software components, such as Virtualization Based Security (VBS) and Trusted Platform Module 2.0 to isolate and protect a user’s authentication data and secure the channel by which that data is communicated.

How does Enhanced Sign-in Security protect biometric data

Face

When Enhanced Sign-in Security is enabled, the face algorithm is protected using VBS to isolate it from the rest of Windows. The hypervisor is used to specify and protect memory regions, so that they can only be accessed by processes running in VBS. The hypervisor allows the face camera to write to these memory regions providing an isolated pathway to deliver face data from the camera to the face matching algorithm.

Face templates are generated in VBS by the protected face algorithm. When not in use, face template data is encrypted using keys generated and only accessible to VBS, and then stored on disk.

Fingerprint

Enhanced Sign-in Security is only supported on fingerprint sensors with match on sensor capabilities. This type of sensor includes a microprocessor and memory which can be used to isolate fingerprint matching and template storage using hardware.

Sensors that support Enhanced Sign-in Security have a certificate embedded during manufacturing. This certificate can be validated by the Windows biometric components running in VBS and is used to establish a secure session with the sensor. The sensor and Windows biometric components use this session to communicate enrollment operations and match results securely.

Credential Operations

The Windows biometric components running in VBS establish a secure channel to the TPM using information shared with VBS by the TPM during boot. When a matching operation is a success, the biometric components in VBS use this channel to authorize the usage of Windows Hello keys for authenticating the user with their identity provider, applications, and services.

How do I get Enhanced Sign-in Security

Enablement is dependent on specialized hardware, drivers, and firmware that are being pre-installed on the system. Device manufacturers can choose to enable Enhanced Sign-in Security on their devices during configuration of the device in factory.

System Compatibility

Compatible hardware and software components are required to enable Enhanced Sign-in Security:

Biometric Sensor Compatibility

Face Biometric Sensor

Enhanced Sign-in Security only supports some USB IR cameras on Intel chip sets. Supported cameras must support Enhanced Sign-in Security in firmware. Usage of the Windows inbox UVC camera driver is required. To check if the camera module is Enhanced Sign-in Security-capable, first go to Device Manager and expand the “Universal Serial Bus controllers” section. Right click on the device named “Intel(R) USB 3.1 eXtensible Host Controller – 1.10 (Microsoft)” and select the Properties option to view the device properties. If there are multiple entries for a host controller, check the properties section for both. Navigate to the Details tab of the driver and select Capabilities from the Property drop down menu. One of the devices should show it has the “CM_DEVCAP_SECUREDEVICE” capability.

FaceBiometricSensorCapabilities

Next, check the properties sections of the PC Cameras by going to the “Cameras” section in Device Manager. If there are multiple entries for PC Cameras, check the properties section for both. Navigate to the Details tab of the drivers and select Capabilities from the Property drop down menu. One of the PC camera devices should have the “CM_DEVCAP_SECUREDEVICE” capability.

FaceBiometricSensorCameraProperties

Fingerprint Biometric Sensor

Enhanced Sign-in Security capable fingerprint sensors must be match on chip. The sensor must have a Microsoft issued certificate burned into the device during manufacturing. The device driver and firmware must support Enhanced Sign-in Security functionality. To check if a fingerprint module is Enhanced Sign-in Security-capable, first navigate open device manager and expand the Biometric devices section. There should be an entry for a fingerprint sensor. Right click the fingerprint reader entry and go to Properties, then Details. Under the Property option, select “Device instance path”.

FingerprintEnabledEnhanced Sign-in Security

Open regedit.exe and navigate to HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Enum\[DeviceInstancePath]\Device Parameters\WinBio\Configurations where DeviceInstancePath is the path listed in Device Manager. Select “Configurations”. There should be a registry key listed named “SecureFingerprint” with a data value of 1. If it does not exist, the device is not secure-capable.

Configurations should also have two folders beneath it: one labelled “0” and one labelled “1”. If there is only one folder and not two, the device is not secure-capable.

FingerprintEnhanced Sign-in SecurityConfigurations

How do I know if Enhanced Sign-in Security is enabled

Security Center

In the Device Security section of the Windows Security application, there will be an entry for Enhanced Sign-in Security if it is enabled on the system. This entry will describe the hardware capability of the system. If the Enhanced Sign-in Security section is not present, the feature is not enabled on the system.

WindowsSecurityCoreIsolation

If there is a biometric sensor embedded in the device that does not support Enhanced Sign-in Security or that type of biometric hardware is absent from the system, it will be indicated by the “Unavailable due to incompatible hardware” description next to the corresponding sensor. This message indicates that the hardware does not follow the sensor requirements needed to support Enhanced Sign-in Security.

Enhanced Sign-in SecurityIncompatibleHardware

Event Viewer

The Windows biometric framework generates logs events when each sensor on a system is enumerated. These logs include information indicating whether a sensor is operating with Enhanced Sign-in Security enabled. Biometric event logs are found in Event Viewer under Event Viewer > Applications and Services Logs > Microsoft > Windows > Biometrics > Operational.

If the biometric device has been loaded properly by the Windows biometric framework there will be a log event with ID 1108 for the corresponding sensor. If the device is operating with Enhanced Sign-in Security enabled, the sensor will be specified as isolated in a “Virtual Secure Mode” process. If the device is not using Enhanced Sign-in Security, it will be specified as isolated in a “System” process.

OperationalEventViewer

In the event 1108, cameras will be described using “Windows Hello Face Software Device (ROOT\WINDOWSHELLOFACESOFTWAREDRIVER\0000)” and fingerprint devices will be described using the device’s specific module and device ID. For fingerprint devices, the device ID can be found in device Manager under Biometric Devices > [Fingerprint Module] > Properties > Details > Device Instance Path.

Application Compatibility

For devices with Enhanced Sign-in Security-capable cameras, a Secure Devices (SDEV) table is required. When an SDEV table is implemented and VBS is turned on, the SDEV table is parsed by the Secure Kernel and restrictions are enforced on accessing Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) device configuration space. These restrictions are enacted to prevent malicious processes from manipulating the configuration space of secured devices specified in the SDEV table.

Applications that attempt to read/write the PCI configuration space, except by means explicitly supported by Windows, will result in bug checks when the SDEV table is parsed and enforced.

All drivers and software included in the device image must be tested for compatibility, given these software restrictions. Software or drivers that are distributed to the system via Windows Update, the Microsoft Store, or other acceptable channels by the device manufacturer should also be checked for compatibility. Without this verification, there may be unexpected behavior on the system.

Unsupported Scenarios

Enabling Enhanced Sign-in Support on Windows Upgrade

Enhanced Sign-in Security is currently only supported on devices configured by a device manufacturer to enable the capability with Windows 10 October 2020 update. In market devices that are hardware-capable that upgrade to this OS build are not currently supported.

Non-Enhanced Sign-in Supported Sensors

When Enhanced Sign-in Security is enabled, only biometric sensors that support Enhanced Sign-in Security will work on the system. All non-capable sensors will not be enumerated by the Windows Biometric framework. To use a sensor that is incompatible with Enhanced Sign-in Security, the user will need to disable VBS.

It is the manufacturer’s decision on what hardware they include in the system and whether Enhanced Sign-in Security is enabled by default. If there are any concerns around biometric modalities being blocked, please contact the device manufacturer for support.

Pluggable/Peripheral Biometric Sensors

Enhanced Sign-in Security is not supported for external fingerprint sensors or camera modules. With Enhanced Sign-in Security enabled, external or peripheral biometric sensor operations will be blocked, regardless of whether they are secure-capable or not.

Wake on touch for fingerprint sensors

PCs that support the Modern Standby normally enable Wake on Touch (WoT) sensor behavior. WoT describes the ability for the fingerprint sensor to wake the system and login the user without requiring the user to touch the sensor twice. This functionality will be blocked while Enhanced Sign-in Security is enabled, but will function normally on capable systems when Enhanced Sign-in Security is disabled.

Troubleshooting

Face/Fingerprint authentication is not working

If biometric authentication is not working, first check that VBS is running and that the secure component has started. To check if VBS is running, open System Information and check under “System Summary”; there should be an entry for “Virtualization Based Security” listed as Running.

BiometricAuthenticationTroubleshooting

Also check that the biometric isolation trust-lets are running. These should be listed under System Information > Software Environment > Running Tasks as “bioiso.exe” and “ngciso.exe”. If either of these checks fail, the system may not meet the requirements for Enhanced Sign-in Security. Attempt to restart the biometric service using (3) below.

To check that the secure connection succeeded, refer to the “How do I know if Enhanced Sign-in Security is enabled?” section.

  1. In Settings under Sign-in Options, remove the non-functioning enrollment and re-enroll; if the entry for Windows Hello Face/Fingerprint is unavailable with the condition “We couldn’t find a fingerprint scanner compatible with Windows Hello Face”, or something similar skip to (2) Check if authentication is working.
  2. In device manager, the sensor should be listed under Biometrics devices. Reinstall the driver by right clicking the name of the device and select Uninstall Device. Restart the PC, at which point Windows will attempt to reinstall the driver. Check if authentication is working.
  3. To restart the biometric service, first remove PIN from the system by going to Sign-in Options and removing PIN. Open a command prompt as administrator and enter “net stop wbiosrvc” then “net start wbiosrvc”. Check if fingerprint authentication is working.
  4. If biometrics are still not working on the device, file a feedback item using Feedback Hub.

PIN is not working

PIN can be reset in the lock screen under Sign-in options. To do so, remove PIN and add it again. This will prompt PIN reset, which should restore PIN functionality.

What happens if a user disables Enhanced Sign-in Security

Disabling Enhanced Sign-in Security is not recommended, however if for some reason the feature is turned off, the user should be forced to go through PIN reset. Previously established credentials will no longer be accessible across the security boundary once Enhanced Sign-in Security is turned off. The user should be able to re-enroll their PIN and/or biometrics regardless of whether they were used in secure mode once Enhanced Sign-in Security is disabled. Additionally, hardware that was not supported while Enhanced Sign-in Security was enabled should now be functional with Enhanced Sign-in Security disabled.