A Vietnamese cyber-security firm, Bkav, has claimed that it was able to defeat the iPhone X’s facial recognition system with the help of a 3D-printed mask.
Researchers from the firm released a blog post and video showing that they had cracked Apple Face ID with a composite 3D-printed mask, which in combination with 2D images of an enrolled user’s face, tricked an iPhone X into unlocking.
In the post, the researchers said their mask cost just US$150 to make. They started working on the mask, including 3D models and the silicon nose, after receiving an iPhone X on Nov. 5, according to reports published by various websites including Gizmodo and Forbes.
The customized mask only had two-dimensional eyes and lips printed on paper, a sculpted silicon nose and a mouth on a 3D-printed frame.
“The recognition mechanism is not as strict as you think,” the Bkav researchers wrote. “We just need a half face to create the mask. It was even simpler than we ourselves had thought.”
“Apple has done this not so well,” wrote a researcher. “Face ID can be fooled by a mask, which means it is not an effective security measure.”
The researchers concede, however, that their technique would require a detailed measurement or digital scan of the face of the target iPhone’s owner. They said they used a handheld scanner that required about five minutes of manually scanning their test subject’s face.
Bkav researchers warn that billionaires, leaders of major corporations, national leaders, and agents like FBI “need to understand the Face ID issue”.
Despite its comments, Bkav has met with some skepticism about its claims, given the lack of details on its process.
Observers pointed out that the firm hasn’t provided a technical paper revealing the methodology behind the work and how exactly the researchers went about their work.
Bkav said it plans to reveal more in a press conference later this week.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov 14
Translation by Ben Ng
[Chinese version 中文版]
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