A security firm based in Vietnam, Bkav, has said that it was able to able to thwart Apple’s facial recognition security system Face ID by using a mask that was specially built. Instead of striving for absolute realism, Bkav built a mask with the goal of tricking Apple’s depth-mapping technology. Bkav used ‘skin’ that was crafted by hand and this was meant to fool Face ID. To produce a model of the face, 3D printing was employed while other parts of the face such as eyes were 2D images.
To breach the Face ID security system, Bkav invested $150 and this included a 3D printer and the length of time it took to create a mask and successfully unlock the iPhone X was five days. The Vietnamese security company did not disclose the number of false starts it took prior to coming up with a mask that could fool Face ID and unlock an iPhone X.
However Bkav has said that their success in fooling Face ID should not be a cause of alarm to ordinary users given the amount of time and effort that was required. It was also necessary to get a digital scan of the iPhone’s owner as well as detailed measurements of their face. According to Bkav, for one to become a target for such an effort, they would need to be high-profile.
“Potential targets shall not be regular users, but billionaires, leaders of major corporations, nation leaders, and agents like FBI need to understand the Face ID’s issue,” security researchers at Bkav wrote in a blog post.
Additionally per the security researchers at Bkav a knowledge of how the articificial intelligence system of Apple worked was important in order to bypass it. A knowledge of security would also be important as well as help from a seasoned artist necessary to construct the nose of the mask by hand. Direct access of the target iPhone is also necessary as this cannot be done remotely. There are also other restrictions to overcome such as a passcode which has to be entered when Apple detects an attempted breach.
The unlocking of an iPhone X using a mask comes a few days after Apple issued a software update meant to fix the screen of the device after reports emerged that it was acting up during cold weather. According to the reports the screens of the iPhone X were being unresponsive and inaccurate whenever the weather was cold and this required users to lock and unlock the phone in order to use it.