Cybersecurity firm seemingly dupes iPhone X's Face ID using cheap mask

Mandy Carr
November 14, 2017

Bkav released a blog post and video showing that they cracked Face ID with a composite mask of 3-D-printed plastic, silicone, makeup, and simple paper cutouts, which in combination tricked an iPhone X into unlocking.

Facial recognition is the next iteration of biometric identification.

"Potential targets shall not be regular users, but billionaires, leaders of major corporations, nation leaders, and agents like Federal Bureau of Investigation need to understand the Face ID's issue".

As shown in the video below, Bkav claims to have pulled this off using a consumer-level 3D printer, a hand-sculpted nose, normal 2D printing and a custom skin surface created to trick the system, all for a total cost of US$150. Wired also reported on the Bkav hack, comparing its own efforts against what we can glean from the video.

Expect Apple to issue an update for the Face ID software or new generations of the iPhone with hardware created to block these circumvention techniques.

Positioned under a sheet less than a metre away from the iPhone X, the mask successfully unlocked the phone as soon the material was removed.

The firm says it was able to trick Apple's Face ID AI by understanding how it worked.

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In a potted question and answer, Bkav says it is irrelevant if Apple's Face ID "learns" new images of the face with use. We also found that odd but were able to replicate the unusual behavior on an iPhone X unit Apple provided us. Apple's facial recognition begins with the opening assumption that the user gazing at the screen is likely to be the correct user. The parts such as eyes are 2D images.

Apple has claimed that its Face ID - which replaces fingerprint scanner Touch ID from its earlier models - is super secure.

Face ID has to be used about every four hours, or else it'll prompt the person to enter a password. If hackers succeed in fooling Face ID by using similar concepts, they would target billionaires, leaders of major corporations, and nation leaders rather than regular users. The mask took approximately 150 Dollars to create. FaceTec, a San Diego based software start-up, has also demonstrated that if iPhone X users fall asleep, then their faces can still be used to unlock their handsets.

Bkav's custom mask is a mix of 3D printing with special processing done around cheeks and around the face.

However, this doesn't seem to be a widespread issue and reports are still mixed at this point, with some users claiming a noticeable slowdown, others say that their phones are working as fast as on day one.

The researchers had an artist make the silicone nose for the mask by hand.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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