One of the advantages of Face ID over Touch ID is that the person unlocking their iPhone must be awake. However, researchers found a way to fool Apple’s facial recognition system into thinking someone is conscious when they weren’t — using modified glasses.
This method does not allow a hacker to trick an iPhone into misidentifying one person as another. But it still could prove problematic for Face ID.
Glasses make Face ID slightly easier to fool
Apple’s biometric security system examines faces in 3D. And it won’t identify someone and unlock their iPhone or iPad if their eyes remain closed. However, glasses make this more complicated.
“If you are wearing glasses, it won’t extract 3D information from the eye area when it recognizes the glasses,” said researchers at the Black Hat USA 2019 security conference in Las Vegas this week.
Face ID apparently expects the lenses to make eyes look somewhat distorted. So Apple’s facial recognition tech simply looks for a black area surrounding a white spot. The researchers took a pair of glasses and added black tape surrounding white tape to the lenses. They then placed these on a test subject and were able to unlock their iPhone, despite the wearer’s eyes being closed.
Rather than indicating a serious security problem, researchers say this proof of concept shows there’s room for improvement in Face ID. Clearly, a sleeping person would wake up when someone puts a pair of glasses on them.
It’s not like Touch ID, where someone’s finger can be placed on their iPhone to unlock it with relative ease.