Since unveiling its high-end iPhone X, Apple has flaunted the handset’s Face ID facial recognition technology on multiple fronts — not only boasting how it’s quicker, more accurate, and all-around safer than Touch ID, but also because the advanced biometric security feature is essentially spoof-proof, Apple says, meaning that it’s very hard (if not nearly impossible) to breach.
As noted in its official Face ID Support Document, Apple has enacted a range of stringent measures to ensure its facial recognition system is unable to be tricked, for example, by someone wearing a mask or by your identical twin sibling. To that end, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, even mentioned while showcasing the technology that Apple “worked with professional mask makers and makeup artists in Hollywood” while Face ID was being developed, creating and employing “a collection” of masks to help train iPhone X’s advanced neural engine.
Unfortunately, even despite these efforts, it appears that one Vietnamese security firm was able to breach Face ID using little more than a 3D printed mask of the user’s face.
Bkav Corp., who’s chief product is a range of internet security tools for mobile and PC applications, demonstrated its technique for tripping-up Face ID using the mask, which itself combines a 3D printed frame with aesthetic elements including make-up, a silicon nose, and various “special processing” features to create 2D image impressions.
“The mask is crafted by combining 3D printing with makeup and 2D images, besides some special processing on the cheeks and around the face, where there are large skin areas, to fool AI of Face ID,” said Bkav’s Vice President of Cyber Security, Ngo Tuan Anh, who added how his firm’s demonstration “proves” that facial recognition is “not mature enough” for devices like smartphones and laptops yet.
Of course, while Face ID being tripped-up by a mask is likely to stir concerns about whether it actually works to the extent Apple says it does, it’s worth pointing out that masks like the one used in today’s demo are highly-unlikely to be a threat to average iPhone X users. Not only are they incredibly difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to procure, but it’s simply hard to believe that anyone, of their own volition, would bother trying to get their hands on one.