Kid unlocks mom’s iPhone X with Face ID


Spot the difference? The iPhone X can't.
Screenshot: Attaullah Malik/YouTube

Another way to circumvent the iPhone X’s Face ID security system has been discovered — but, don’t worry, it’s not going to be one that affects the overwhelming majority of users.

The Face ID “hacker” in question is the fifth-grade son of an iPhone X owner, who apparently looks close enough to his mom in appearance that the system recognizes them both as the same person.

As an article for Wired explains:

“Attaullah Malik and Sana Sherwani made that discovery earlier this month, when their fifth-grade son, Ammar Malik, walked into the bedroom of their Staten Island home to admire their new pair of iPhone Xs just after they’d set up Face ID. ‘There’s no way you’re getting access to this phone,’ the older Malik remembers his wife telling her son, in a half-joking show of strictness.

Malik offered to let Ammar look at his phone instead, but the boy picked up his mother’s, not knowing which was which. And a split second after he looked at it, the phone unlocked.”

Interestingly, when Sana Sherwani re-registered her face it no longer allowed her son access. However, when she replicated the indoor, nighttime lighting conditions she had used to set up Face ID in the first place, the spoofing problem returned.

The lesson, it seems, is that despite Apple making clear that Face ID works even in the dark, for the most secure results you should set it up under bright lighting conditions.

Seeing as the majority of troublemaker hackers aren’t fifth-grade family relatives, this is not an issue that’s likely to be considered a major Face ID security breach. Although if it turns out to be a widespread occurrence it may be annoying for any parent who wants to stop their offspring accessing their phone with ease.

So far, there have been a handful of instances in which people claim that they have been able to fool Touch ID. Recently, the Vietnamese security firm Bkav posted a video showing an iPhone X being unlocked using a composite 3D-printed mask made of plastic, makeup, silicone and paper cutouts for some facial features.

A pair of brothers in Russia also claim that they were able to get an iPhone X to recognize both of them as the same person, after training the Face ID system to do so.

Until we hear about the facial biometric system being used to unlock a stolen iPhone X against the user’s will, we’re not going to be too worried, though!

Have you had any surprising experiences with Face ID? Let us know in the comments below.


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