Apple’s revolutionary Face ID tech built-into its high-end iPhone X may very well be “years ahead” of competing facial recognition platforms — however that hasn’t stopped it from being spoofed (or unintentionally tricked into authenticating users other than its owner) on multiple occasions since the flagship hit store shelves earlier this month.
And while the average iPhone X owner will likely never have to worry about their handset being breached by an “unknown actor,” the latest Face ID “hack” proves that even our own flesh and blood can be a security liability.
Now, while we’ve seen the iPhone X spoofed by identical twins and silicon masks before, this latest “hack,” which was first reported by WIRED on Tuesday, was carried out by a much younger ‘culprit.’
Enter fifth-grade student, Ammar Malik, who looks so much like his mother, Sana Sherwani, that Apple’s Face ID system recognizes and authenticates them as the same person on her iPhone X.
“Sana Sherwani [and her husband, Attaullah Malik] made the discovery earlier this month,” the report says, “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,” Malik’s father says his wife ‘half-jokingly’ told her son, while he then offered young Ammar the opportunity to check out his iPhone X. Since both the elder Malik and his wife have one, however, the ten-year-old allegedly picked up his mom’s iPhone X unit by accident, and ultimately unlocked the phone within a “split-second” of picking it up and looking into the screen. Be sure to watch the entire exchange captured in Malik’s YouTube video below.
Upon realizing that her son — who as you can see in the video looks unmistakably like her — was able to crack her iPhone X, Sherwani then went back in and reset her Face ID credentials — re-registering her face to the point where Malik was no longer able to trick the system. However, when Sherwani went back in a second time to replicate the same “indoor, nighttime lighting conditions” that were present during her initial Face ID registration, young Malik’s ability to spoof the handset returned in full-effect.
Apple claims that Face ID will work just as effectively in the dark as it will in broad-daylight or an otherwise well-lit environment; however if this “hack” makes anything clear, it’s that registering your Face ID in the light will ultimately produce better results.
Of course, this is a rare instance of inter-familial “hacking” that’s basically unheard of in the tech world… While it’s common for children to carry many of their parents’ physical traits, the fact is that most children don’t end up looking like an exact carbon-copy of their parents — as Malik and Sherwani clearly do — and so this kind of “hack” is unlikely to affect the majority of us.