Apple’s revolutionary new Face ID technology can be hacked. When Apple unveiled the iPhone X, it claimed the Face ID was so secure that even the best quality masks wouldn’t be able to fool it. As soon as security researchers got their hands on the 10th anniversary iPhone, they started trying to crack the iPhone X Face ID. Most of them have failed despite spending tons of time and resources.
How Bkav fooled the iPhone X Face ID
A security research firm from Vietnam claims to have successfully cracked the iPhone X Face ID security using simple techniques. They spent only about $150 to create a mask that unlocked a staffer’s iPhone X. In a blog post, Vietnam-based Bkav said they didn’t design the world’s most realistic mask. Instead, they focused only on specific spots of the mask to trick the depth-mapping technology.
The mask included a sculpted silicon nose, two-dimensional printed eyes and lips, a 3D printed plastic frame, some makeup, and simple paper cutouts. Researchers said it cost them merely $150 to create the mask that fooled the iPhone X Face ID. Bkav’s method is yet to be confirmed by other security researchers. Bkav wrote in its blog post that the Face ID is “not an effective security measure” because it can be “fooled by mask.”
Bkav also published a YouTube video that shows one of their staff members pulling a piece of cloth from a 3D-printed mask. The mask faces an iPhone X, which is placed on a stand. As soon as the cloth is removed from the mask, the phone unlocks. The Vietnamese firm hasn’t yet revealed the detailed process, or how many times they tried before developing this technique.
Apple has said in its white paper that the iPhone X Face ID analyzes only specific parts of your facial features. Security researcher Marc Rogers told Wired that Bkav didn’t mention how they registered the phone and trained on the owner’s real face. They might have “weakened” the Face ID by training it while some of the owner’s facial features were obscured.
Many security experts have also tried to fool the Face ID with “twin tests,” but with limited success. In most cases, the iPhone X was able to tell apart between identical twins. But in a few tests, a person was able to unlock the iPhone X set up with their identical twin’s face. Apple has claimed that it was working on a fix to ensure that identical twins can’t fool the system. Face ID is said to have an error rate of just one in one million.
Casual users have little reason to worry
Should you worry that your iPhone X could be unlocked so easily? If you are just a casual user, you need not worry. It might be a cause for worry if you are a celebrity, politician, billionaire, or a spy. Fooling the iPhone X Face ID even with Bkav’s method would require a lot of research and preparation. A person has to take an accurate scan of your face, make a mask, and then be able to steal your phone.
Most iPhone X owners won’t face that kind of hacking attempt. Casual users are more likely to be troubled by acquaintances and thieves that would give up after a few attempts. If you still find yourself in a situation where law enforcement agencies might attempt to get your iPhone X unlocked, you can disable the Face ID technology by pressing the lock button five times.
Bkav wrote in its blog that the efforts involved to fool the Face ID would make it incredibly difficult to compromise casual users. The fact that Face ID can be fooled shows that biometric methods don’t offer foolproof security. They offer only a reasonable level of security, and users adopt them because they are more convenient. Bkav added that they are also working on other versions of the technique that could make it easier to unlock someone’s iPhone X.
iPhone X to get tons new features over the next year
Apple’s design chief Jony Ive said in an interview with Wallpaper that the iPhone X would get a lot of new features via software updates over the next year. Without going into details, he said much of the iPhone X’s functionality is “determined by software.” So, the device is going to “change and evolve” further in the coming months. In about a year, the iPhone X will be able to do things it can’t do right now.
The iPhone X is the biggest upgrade in Apple’s smartphone lineup in years. It has a beautiful bezel-less OLED display, Face ID, wireless charging, augmented reality, a powerful A11 Bionic processor, Portrait Lighting, and many other features.