Viet­namese re­searcher shows iPhone X face ID ‘hack’

Oman Daily Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

HANOI: A re­searcher in Viet­nam has demon­strated how he ap­par­ently fooled Ap­ple Inc’s face recog­ni­tion ID soft­ware on its new iPhone X us­ing a mask made with a 3D printer, sil­i­cone and pa­per tape.

An an­nounce­ment on Fri­day by Bkav, a Viet­namese cy­ber­se­cu­rity firm, that it had cracked Ap­ple’s Face ID, and a sub­se­quent video ap­par­ently show­ing an iPhone be­ing un­locked when pointed at a mask, were greeted with some scep­ti­cism.

Ngo Tuan Anh, Bkav’s Vi­cePres­i­dent, gave Reuters sev­eral demon­stra­tions, first un­lock­ing the phone with his face and then by us­ing the mask. It ap­peared to work each time.

How­ever, he de­clined to regis­ter a user ID and the mask on the phone from scratch be­cause, he said, the iPhone and mask need to be placed at very spe­cific an­gles, and the mask to be re­fined, a process he said could take up to nine hours.

Ap­ple de­clined to com­ment, re­fer­ring jour­nal­ists to a page on its web­site that ex­plains how Face ID works.

That page says the prob­a­bil­ity of a ran­dom per­son un­lock­ing an­other user’s phone with their face was ap­prox­i­mately 1-in-a-mil­lion, com­pared to 1-in-50,000 for the pre­vi­ously used fin­ger­print scan­ner. It also says Face ID al­lows only five un­suc­cess­ful match at­tempts be­fore a pass­code is re­quired.

Anh ac­knowl­edged that pre­par­ing the mask wasn’t easy, but he said he be­lieved the demon­stra­tion showed fa­cial recog­ni­tion as a way to au­then­ti­cate users would be risky for some.

“It’s not easy for nor­mal peo­ple to do what we do here, but it’s a con­cern for peo­ple in the se­cu­rity sec­tor and im­por­tant peo­ple like politi­cians or heads of cor­po­ra­tions,” he said.

“(These) im­por­tant peo­ple should ab­so­lutely not lend their iPhone X to any­one if they have ac­ti­vated the Face ID func­tion.”

It’s the first re­ported case of re­searchers ap­par­ently be­ing able to fool the Face ID soft­ware.

Cy­ber­se­cu­rity ex­perts said the is­sue was not so much whether Face ID could be hacked, but how much ef­fort a hack re­quired.

“Noth­ing is 100 per cent se­cure,” wrote Terry Ray, chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer at US-based cy­ber­se­cu­rity com­pany Im­perva, in a note.

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way. The ques­tions are: How much trouble would some­one go to, and how much would they spend to get your data?”

Bkav’s Anh said the re­search took about a week, and in­cluded nu­mer­ous fail­ures.

The mask frame was made of plas­tic, cov­ered with pa­per tape to re­sem­ble skin, with a sil­i­cone nose and pa­per for eyes and mouth.

— Reuters

Ngo Tuan Anh demon­strates iPhone X Ap­ple’s face recog­ni­tion ID soft­ware with a 3D mask at his of­fice in Hanoi on Tues­day.

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