back to article Apple’s facial recognition: Well, it is more secure for the, er, sleeping user

Security watchers have given Apple’s introduction of facial recognition technology a cautious welcome. The newly unveiled iPhone X smartphone débuts an advanced facial recognition technology, called Face ID, which relies on Apple’s TrueDepth camera system. The technology features seven sensors and machine learning algorithms …

  1. Mage Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Biometrics

    Repeat after me:

    Biometrics do not replace passwords. Because when (not if) the item is replicated or system hacked you can't change your fingerprints/retina/face structure/<random biometric item>

    Biometrics to use as a key or purchase verification is NEVER going to be a good idea.

    P.S. I know how to defeat this

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Biometrics

      I am by no means an expert but I'd go for:

      - Bit of paper with a full-page photo, folded to the shape of the face that's on it?

      - Bit of paper with a full-page photo, wrapped around a mannequin head.

      - Bit of paper with a full-page photo, held over the attackers own face.

      Sure, it might take a bit of squidging and folding to get it right but you only need to get in once.

      I'm still struggling to work out why using face-rec to unlock a phone isn't viable just because the user is asleep. I don't buy that one at all. I mean, maybe a pair of Goggly Eyes might come into play to convince it that they have their eyes open, but I don't think we're talking hi-tech.

      Biometrics are not authentication.

      They say "I am shortly going to prove that I am this person" and then tell you which person that is. They DO NOT PROVE that you are that person. That's what actual authentication is.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Biometrics

        Simple. Think of all those people WITH BAD MEMORIES.

        1. Felonmarmer

          Re: Biometrics

          Think of all those twins. The evil one could steal the others phone!

          1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

            Re: Biometrics

            Identical twins come in two varieties, some are mirror images of each other, the rest are not. (Depends when in gestation the zygote splits.)

            Some evil twins are going to need a shiny object.

      2. FIA

        Re: Biometrics

        I am by no means an expert but I'd go for:

        [snip list]

        The keynote implied they'd at least done some research into this. It mentioned they'd worked with film mask makers to attempt to mitigate this attack. They showed some very convincing looking masks, that were apparently used in the development process to train the recognition algorithms. I'm sure it's going to be fooled, but it did at least sound like they've considered the most obvious avenues of attack.

        I'm still struggling to work out why using face-rec to unlock a phone isn't viable just because the user is asleep. I don't buy that one at all[...]

        I didn't take this too seriously either, the same person said "Even if the new Apple algorithm for facial recognition cannot be fooled by photography, vertical self-videos can easily be found in the public domain - for example, on Instagram - and could be used to crack the device." Now, maybe they had access to prototype hardware, discovered and chose not to share this vuln with apple, or maybe they're not quite as knowledgeable as they think. (Or maybe 'possibly' just got omitted from the transcript?)

        Biometrics are not authentication.

        They say "I am shortly going to prove that I am this person" and then tell you which person that is. They DO NOT PROVE that you are that person. That's what actual authentication is.

        This a thousand times over!

        You're trading convenience for security.

        So long as you know this it's fine, but I fear many people don't. (My fingerprint unlocks my phone, however it doesn't log me into my banking app no matter how many times the app tries to tell me I should let it).

        1. Lee D Silver badge

          Re: Biometrics

          @FIA: People said the same about fingerprint readers, and then Gummi Bears foiled us all.

          I'm not saying they haven't looked. I'm saying that the chances of them defeating that kind of attack are slim.

          The precision to which you can measure a face depthmask, but still recognise it from any angle in any circumstance, with any hairstyle, etc. are very limited. Limited enough that it would be a viable attack still, no matter the amount of technology involved.

          The fuzzy logic that must be involved alone gives you huge scope for simple tricks.

          When the device is available to the general public, I give it a week or so before a viable bypass is found, with, say, even a low 10% success rate (hell, we can just have as many goes as we need to, really, just make them flux quick so they iPhone just thinks the videostream is one jerky stream of bad images rather than someone actually trying to brute-force the proper depth map).

          I imagine it wouldn't be outside the realms of possibility to have some kind of overlay on the camera sensor that can actually "fake" any depth you like to the same kind of resolution, either, if it's just IR.

          1. FIA

            Re: Biometrics

            @FIA: People said the same about fingerprint readers, and then Gummi Bears foiled us all.

            I'm not saying they haven't looked. I'm saying that the chances of them defeating that kind of attack are slim.

            Apologies, I mistook your comment for the usual 'I'll hold up a photo, I bet they never thought of that' comment that I've read a lot of; often written as though they assume people develop these things without even considering the issue. I was just alluding to the fact they had considered this.

            I agree that it's a case of 'when' not 'if' though.

            Like with any of these things it does just boil down to convenience vs security. A face or fingerprint is probably good enough for most people, and I suppose at least if I steal your phone but don't take a picture I probably can't then lift the access method from the device.

            I'd be interested to know the failure tolerances though, I assume it does 'give up' after a while and enforce the use of the pin like it does with the fingerprint reader?

            1. AdamWill

              Re: Biometrics

              Also remember that the vast majority of smartphone users have such a strong preference for 'convenience' it's almost off the charts.

              I'm actually (for once) more or less entirely positive about touch ID and face ID for 99.9% of phone users for this simple reason. I mean, the internet is full of comment threads like this about how touch ID can be 'defeated' using complex schemes involving gummy bears or whatever and face ID can maybe be defeated by, well, we don't know yet, but very likely something at least equally complex (given that Apple really does seem to have done some pretty solid work on making it resist the old 'use a photo' gag, etc.)

              This is all fine and dandy and very nerdy, but rather heroically missing the point. How hard was it to break into most people's phones *before* touch ID? It was about as hard as 'pick up phone, swipe screen', because most people *just didn't bother locking their phones*. They don't want to bother typing a passphrase or swiping a pattern, it's effort they're just not willing to expend.

              Even people who *did* lock their phones generally used a hilariously weak password or pattern and never, ever changed it. Getting into one of those is about as hard as 'try 1234' or 'shoulder surf for a few minutes until you see them enter the pattern, *then* steal the phone'.

              It's not like the competition for touch ID / face ID is 'a world of people who lock their phones with strong passwords and change them regularly'. It's 'a world of people who don't lock their phones or use 1234 as the password'. Given this, all the arguing about Mission Impossible-style scenarios is a bit ludicrous. Touch ID vastly improved *practical* security in the real world by making it much more convenient to have at least *some* security, to the point where lots of people use it who never locked their phones before. That's a *good* thing.

              It does seem to be the case that face ID isn't *really* better than touch ID in any particularly identifiable way but Apple chose to go with it because of the 'can't put a fingerprint sensor on the front' problem, and that's a decision you can reasonably question. But I don't really have a lot of time for 'well, some security researchers managed to compromise it with an awful lot of effort and time so it must be a terrible idea' dick-waving.

              1. HelpfulJohn

                Re: Biometrics

                If they really can not put a fingerprint sensor on the front, due to the screen filling that region, why not put one on the *back*?

                Or am I missing something obvious?

          2. Wayland Bronze badge

            Re: Biometrics

            As a convenient way of locking your phone it's quite good but then so is the fingerprint. However since the technology to read the face is here then so is the technology to simulate the face. Heck you could 3D print a face. It's not super secure.

            1. D@v3

              Re: 3D print a face?

              Sure, right after you have 3D scanned the face of the person who's phone you've just pinched.

              As with the 3D printer a finger print solution that has been suggested before, it seems to me the main problem with most of the ways that i have heard of to 'beat' these various methods of biometric security, involve having access to fairly complicated equipment, and time. Not things that your average mugger on the street have access to.

      3. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

        Re: Biometrics

        - bit of paper wrapped round a gummi bear?

      4. billdehaan

        Re: Biometrics

        Bit of paper with a full-page photo, folded to the shape of the face that's on it?

        Years ago, in Japan, where they sell everything in vending machines, they started selling adult products (porn, sex toys, whatever). Of course, the government required that there be safeguards to prevent underage buyers from obtaining these products.

        Of course, they did anyway, and when they pulled the vending machines and looked at the photos of the buyers of all these products, they noticed a staggering number of pop stars, actors, and actresses. Although the facial recognition software was very good at differentiating between a face that was 12 years old and one that was 19, it wasn't good at differentiating between a 32 year old actress and a photograph of a 32 year old actress.

      5. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Biometrics

        Bit of paper with a full-page photo, held over the attackers own face.

        Every sign printing shop has a printer which can print on vinyl sticky film.

        Similarly, every sign shop bod knows how to apply said film to a curved surface. All you need is a hair drier.

        Unless the phone scans in UV and IR as well I do not quite see how you can defeat that.

        1. JCDenton

          Re: Biometrics

          Read up on it a bit more. FaceID incorporates an IR camera among others. It isn't easily fooled. Amazingly, Apple thought of all this when they made it.

          That last line sarcasm, FYI.

    2. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: Biometrics

      Biometrics do not replace passwords...

      Precisely. Biometric measurements are fine as a method of identification, but not as a key. Who I am should establish my user ID, but it should never be used as my password.

      1. SAdams

        Re: Biometrics

        “Biometric measurements are fine as a method of identification, but not as a key. Who I am should establish my user ID, but it should never be used as my password.”

        This seems to miss a LOT of people. I’ve heard suggestions that DNA would be good for secure authentication - which is a bit like having a password you write on post it notes and leave everywhere you go!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Over Engineered. Give me an iPhone XE with just Pin.

      It's completely over engineered for the sake of it. I'd happily take the iPhone XE without the fancy facial recognition and just a pin, with a smaller segment cut out the top of the display.

      Absolutely no interest in using facial recognition. Even with touch ID, I still use a pin.

      I'm sure the iPhone XE (like the iPhone SE) will happen soon enough.

    4. HelpfulJohn

      Re: Biometrics

      "P.S. I know how to defeat this"

      As do I. Cut the poor bastard's face off when you steal his phone. It works for fingerprints and retinal scans, too.

      Doing a life-like Hollywood SFX mask of the face might work, as in "Mission Impossible" movies. If you put it over your own face to fool the heat sensors.

  2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
    FAIL

    Like fingerprints

    Cops in the US can force you to unlock your phone without a warrant if it can be unlocked using biometrics. But Apple has now made it so they can just hold it up to your face, alive or dead (with eyes open). Great...

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Like fingerprints

      No different to fingerprints. Get you to touch ANYTHING (not even the phone) and they could unlock your phone.

      This is why we do not use biometrics as authentication, only identification.

      Identification = "I'm claiming to be Mr X"

      Authentication = "I have proven that I am that person".

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Like fingerprints

        Then how do you deal with STOLEN credentials?

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Like fingerprints

      > Cops in the US can force you to unlock your phone without a warrant if it can be unlocked using biometrics. But Apple has now made it so they can just hold it up to your face, alive or dead (with eyes open). Great...

      Biometric ID is disabled if you tap a button five times, on the latest iOS. Biometric unlocking is also also disabled if the phone hasn't been unlocked for a period of time, or has been power cycled. Additionally, even an unlocked phone won't talk to a computer it's plugged into without the passcode.

      It's strange, but it's almost as if Apple have put some thought into this...

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: Like fingerprints

        Fun prank.

        Press everyone's button five times, and see if they remember what the passcode they set up months ago was supposed to be....

        1. DougS Silver badge

          @Lee D - fun prank

          Touch ID requires that you re-authenticate with your password every 48 hours (I think it is supposed to be that, though I think I've seen it sometimes go a bit longer) so it isn't like you have to worry about forgetting your password even if you haven't restarted your phone (which also requires the password) in a long time.

          I have to imagine Face ID works the same way.

        2. gnasher729 Silver badge

          Re: Like fingerprints

          "Press everyone's button five times, and see if they remember what the passcode they set up months ago was supposed to be...."

          Oh, you're so funny. Do you think Apple didn't think of that?

          After about four days, both TouchID and FaceID don't work anymore. So you will have to enter your passcode every four days.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Like fingerprints

        It's strange, but it's almost as if Apple have put some thought into this...

        Sure they put some thought into this - a lot of marketing thought. Like Cook's lame painting of why Apple took years to go with OLED screens. (Bought from Samsung.) And why Apple took a long time after Samsung to implement facial recognition, or wireless charging, or took a long time after Android to implement voice commands. Yet marketing each is if Apple were first.

        I don't have a problem with Apple's products. I have a problem with Apple's lack of honesty.

        1. Wilseus

          Re: Like fingerprints

          "Yet marketing each is if Apple were first."

          They've been doing that kind of thing for decades, such as when they proudly proclaimed that their new Power Mac was the first RISC home computer.

          No it fucking wasn't.

        2. poopoo

          Re: Like fingerprints

          I agree with that. Apple had to be dragged kicking and screaming into environmental responsibility, then you'd think they invented it. Likewise they swore the single button mouse was so much better. I believed them, until of course I got a two button mouse.

          1. DougS Silver badge

            Re: Like fingerprints

            When the Mac was introduced in 1984 nobody had been exposed to a mouse before, so a single button probably made sense to avoid complication. The problem it became almost a religious dogma for Apple even after the whole world knew how to use a mouse and software was becoming ever more complex and could benefit from the extra contexts multiple mouse buttons provided.

    3. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Like fingerprints

      they can just hold it up to your face, alive or dead (with eyes open).

      Thank fuck for that. I was trying to figure how I'd get a victim to unlock their 'X' while they were screaming and all wide-eyed in terror. Thought I might have to choose a new line of business for a while there.

    4. JBowler

      Re: Like fingerprints

      This is why recent Android revisions have required PIN entry after a restart; previously the fingerprint was enough. If you obey the rules and shut your phone down on take-off and landing the US border control cannot open your (Android) phone. There is a risk because they have jurisdiction within 200 miles of the border, but this is a border control issue; every other law enforcement authority in the US requires a search warrant first.

      John Bowler

    5. pleb

      Re: Like fingerprints

      Sure, but since at least two cops will have gooned at it already it will revert to requiring your pass code by the time they have you in a headlock.

  3. Sureo

    I can't help wondering what happens when the owner dies. I suppose they'll just bury the gadgets along with the body, giving lie to the saying 'you can't take it with you'.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Same thing that happens when the owner dies and doesn't leave the password behind. You don't need the dead person's face, their password will do as well. If they didn't leave you their password it doesn't make it any easier if they weren't using biometrics.

    2. Chris 3

      Apple requires you to have a passcode in addition to TouchID/FaceID

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Has anyone tested it with black people?

    1. MrXavia

      A scary thought.

      This uses a projected IR dot pattern for the 3d, in theory I could see that very dark black skin may absorb enough of the IR so that it isn't able to sense the depth, the same way that some IR sensor hand dryers/faucets wont work for black skin..

      You have to hope Apple have tested this with many different skin types and makeup.

      1. Mongrel

        Or just a reference to the awesome show "Better Off Ted". Well worth seeking out if you haven't seen it.

        "Veridian Dynamics. Diversity: just the thought of it makes these white people smile"

        1. eldakka Silver badge

          Or just a reference to the awesome show "Better Off Ted".

          Loved that show, I'm still perplexed to this day why it didn't have a longer run (but then, I feel that way about Firefly too).

      2. DougS Silver badge

        Dark skin

        That's a good point, Apple would be in for some MAJOR criticism if that turned out to be a problem! I don't think makeup is much of a concern compared to that, since wearing makeup is a choice like wearing giant sunglasses or a ski mask.

  5. SkippyBing Silver badge

    Currently my phone is lying flat on my desk, I can unlock it without picking it up it with my finger or a pin and check the screen for notifications. How is a system that requires picking it up to be scanned by its camera(s) making my life easier?

    Android phones have had face unlock for a while, I don't think it's concerns over the security that have prevented its widespread adoption, more the fact it's less convenient that any other method.

    1. Johnr

      Which was my first thought ... OOOOOHHHHH Apple 10 Face recognition!!!! ,Wireless charging!!!! better camera!!!!!! or what Android has been doing already for 2 years

      But you know the fanboys will be lining up to pay through the nose.

      Fools and their money.....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Odd, could swear blind those Nokia's ran Windows Phone.

        1. The Original Steve

          My 2 - 3 year old Lumia 950 XL (stop laughing at the back!) has Qi and face unlock.

          Sammy nailed edge screens a couple of years ago.

          So what's new other than wanky emojis?

          And £1000! A fool and their money.. .

          1. Whit.I.Are

            I had a Nokia Lumia 820 in 2012, that had Qi wireless charging...

    2. James Delaney

      <blockquote>Currently my phone is lying flat on my desk, I can unlock it without picking it up it with my finger or a pin and check the screen for notifications. How is a system that requires picking it up to be scanned by its camera(s) making my life easier?</blockquote>

      I think you'll still be able to do this, just tap the screen. You might have to raise it to interact with those notifications but according to the keynote it looks like you'll definitely be able to see them without picking it up.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I agree with all comments below

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Jaffa cakes are biscuits

      Muffins are round bread rolls.

      Marmite is lovely.

      Theresa May is the greatest leader.

      Trump is super cool.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I was with you until said Theresa May is the greatest leader...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          It's called....

          Wait for it...

          Just give me second....

          "Sarcasm"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You're a Muppet.

  7. Cynical Observer
  8. fLaMePrOoF

    The lidar technology in many newer cars would be capable of 'stealing' a person's 3 dimensional facial data without even needing close proximity or line of sight. Fingerprints, voice and iris patterns are bad enough but facial data is literally the easiest to compromise...

    With the type of high end high resolution lidar being utilised by large companies and governments for 3D area mapping the facial data of large crowds could be captured in minutes or seconds...

    And even without lidar it is possible to extrapolate 3D data from multiple images of a person's face, particularly with a dual camera setup.

    It seems the only people not vulnerable would be Muslim women, bikers, and teens wearing hoodies...

    What might an individual hacker need to compromise this new unlock feature?

    1 A lidar scanner (becoming surprisingly common place, and with enough images of the target this might not even be needed)

    2 A picture of the target, or preferably 2 or 3 from slightly different angles, to map onto the 3D construct of their face, not difficult at all these days... (and this won't even be necessary if the facial detection is based on geometric data only)

    3 A 3D printer

    1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

      A 3D printer

      Ahhh, that old pick line

      Is that a 3D representation of my face which you are going to use to hack my phone in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me...

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: A 3D printer

        Easy to conceal if you fashion a MASK with the data. If anyone asks, just say it's for Halloween or a performance.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: A 3D printer

          You would have to create your 3D print before iOS disables Biometric Unlock - which it does after a period of time or after a power cycle.

          I have seen such 3D face printers, but only in a Mission Impossible movie.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "With the type of high end high resolution lidar being utilised by large companies and governments for 3D area mapping the facial data of large crowds could be captured in minutes or seconds..."

      I wonder if they could do my cataracts at the same time?

    3. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

      One of Larry Niven's stories had a security system that scanned the skull.

    4. eldakka Silver badge

      It seems the only people not vulnerable would be Muslim women, bikers, and teens wearing hoodies...

      What about a hoodie-wearing teenage Muslim woman biker?

  9. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    First no Windows 9, now no Iphone 9

    Has the tech industry erased a number without telling us or is Apple copying others as usual?

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      I believe they're worried about low sales in German speaking countries.

      That or they've been reading XKCD's Thing Explainer which goes to great lengths to avoid the number 9 as it isn't one of the 1000 most used words in English. Unless I'm confusing cause and effect...

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        I thought it was something to do with the Japanese for nine? Though "nein" also has negative implications, if you used the digit it would actually just be pronounced "Windows Neun" by any German speaker.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          The Japanese don't like the number 4, so it's often missing in product ranges. (Eg. Lumux LX 3 > LX 5, Canon 5D, 3D etc)

          Quadrophobia

        2. Tigra 07 Silver badge
          Meh

          How can a number have negative implications? Nein isn't only associated with Hitler to modern Germans is it?

          Understandable numbers to avoid in business that I can think of are: 69 and 666. Chrome and Firefox aren't far off reaching versions 69 so we'll see what happens then =P

          There's probably a good joke about Internet Explorer 69 and being fucked by malware in here somewhere...

          1. eldakka Silver badge
            Coat

            Understandable numbers to avoid in business that I can think of are: 69 and 666.

            If someone has 69 up or downvotes on a comment, I never vote either way because I'm not going to be the one responsible for preventing anyone from having a 69.

        3. DaLo

          "...it would actually just be pronounced "Windows Neun" by any German speaker."

          Yeah, I can see why that would really annoy Apple.

        4. eldakka Silver badge

          f you used the digit it would actually just be pronounced "Windows Neun" by any German speaker.

          Wouldn't it be "Fenster neun"?

          It seems incongruous to translate one part but not the other.

      2. Shell

        I thought it was the X because it's the tenth-anniversary phone? (bet they don't release a 9 though).

    2. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Google isn't scared of the number 9.

      Proud owner of a Nexus Nein here.

    3. Robert Sneddon

      Accidental downgrade

      The worry was that if a user held an iPhone 9 upside-down they'd automatically get downgraded to an iPhone 6.

      "You're holding it wrong!"

  10. The Jon

    Could you now unlock $celebrity's phone by taking a trip to Madame Tussauds?

    Further, I wonder if pointing this persons phone at this artefact would magically unlock it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No, Apple stated they had worked with film studios effects department to trick FaceID. MT aren’t as good as FX people.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Liveness check ? Circa 2013 on Android ...

    I had an Android tablet in 2013 which had Googles face-unlock feature.

    Even it had a liveness check you could enable (which required the presented image to blink).

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Liveness check ? Circa 2013 on Android ...

      "I had an Android tablet in 2013 which had Googles face-unlock feature."

      As does my compnay issued Galaxy S2, but it's disabled as part of the enforced security policy implemented when connecting up to the company Exchange server. Only a PIN or password is allowed (and mandatory)

    2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: Liveness check ? Circa 2013 on Android ...

      There are subtle colour changes in the skin as a result of pulse - these are reliable enough to use for pulse measurement. Make sure you simulate that in your codebreaking photo.

      1. David Roberts Silver badge

        Re: Liveness check ? Circa 2013 on Android ...

        Skin colour changes?

        So it may not work if you have sunburn?

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Liveness check ? Circa 2013 on Android ...

          There are actually free pulse measuring apps out there. They just need camera permission.

  12. ratfox Silver badge

    I wonder how precise the 3D data is. A flat picture will not work, but if all you need to do is fold it a bit imaginatively, that's not much better...

    But more generally, I find this inferior to the fingerprint sensor: slower, and more cumbersome.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Why would someone implement a multipoint 3D scanner that wouldn't distinguish between a face and two planes intersecting at an edge? Your face would have more in common with almost any other human's face than it would a folded piece of paper.

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        What if you have a really flat face and squarish head?

        Sounds farfetched but i met someone at school like that (He was known as Hammerhead (and hated it)).

    2. Dr Mantis Toboggan
      FAIL

      Sony already have this 3d tech in the latest Xperia XZ1 it was demoed 3 months ago to pretty much zero fanfare, but now Apple have something the same everyone loses their minds???

      https://techcrunch.com/2017/06/26/sony-to-demo-3d-face-biometric-running-on-xperia-smartphone/

  13. iron Silver badge

    What about someone who has facial reconstruction surgery, perhaps after a car crash? As the car is crashing do they need to turn off Face ID on their iPhone so they can still unlock it?

    1. JamesPond

      What about someone who has facial reconstruction surgery?

      From watching the iPhoneX keynote, the first phone they tried didn't recognise the users face but requested a Passcode instead. So similar functionality as TouchID.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: What about someone who has facial reconstruction surgery?

        Yeah, the phone during the keynote had been either power cycled or left too long - both of which disable biometric unlocking by design.

        The passcode is also required from the user for done other operations too, so someone with a facial accident (or an accident with some super glue and a Halloween mask) can still access their phone.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cooperation

    When Apple wouldn't try to unlock that iPhone and politicians went on about working with tech companies to get around encryption, is this the solution they came up with together with "the industry" aka Apple?

    Some folk in the government security world are smart enough to say "well if breaking the lock won't sit well with consumers, what if we make opening it easier?"

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Cooperation

      If the dead terrorist's face was intact it might work to unlock the phone. But they'd have to do it quickly, death causes all sorts of changes in the tissues which would quickly make it no longer a match. They also have to do it quickly enough as Touch ID times out after 48 hours, and have to hope he hadn't disabled it via hitting the sleep/wake button five times or turning off the phone.

      It would be a LOT easier for law enforcement to break into a dead person's phone using Touch ID (or using the other inferior facial recognition systems that can be fooled with a photograph) than Face ID. Getting the person's fingerprints (which they leave everywhere) or a picture of them is a lot easier than needing their face intact and lifelike. Perhaps a 3D printed model of the face would work, assuming there were enough photos from different angles.

      I saw an article where someone who works with military grade facial recognition gear said that based on all the sensors Apple has they have the hardware sufficient for telling the difference between an actual face and a dead person or perfect 3D printed replica, but the software to do it (basically looking for the right amount of translucence in the skin and areas of greater/lesser blood flow leading to temperature differences) is very complex. He didn't believe they could get that right on day one, but thought it could improve its resistance to fakery over time as they tweak it.

  15. JakHaxz
    Joke

    Password Policy

    Due to company password policy we will be requiring all staff who get the new Iphone to have their face surgically altered every 90 days

    Credit: https://twitter.com/PHP_CEO/status/907697084253470721

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Password Policy

      Their new face must include a scar at least 8 inches long, at least one leg and at least one cleft palate.

  16. fedoraman
    Coat

    Wasps

    Help!

    I've just been stung by 50 wasps, and now my face has swelled up I can't unlock my phone to call for an ambulance!

    Well, it might happen.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Wasps

      Most phones allow you to make an emergency call from the lock screen.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Wasps

        And whilst waiting for for the ambulance, you can just unlock with a passcode.

        1. Stuart Elliott

          Re: Wasps

          Dave 126 - you're wasting your breath, if you're not denigrating Apple and the iPhone, you're a delusional fanboi and need to be down-voted into oblivion apparently.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Wasps

            I actually use a Nexus 5 and whatever PC is best suited to my needs - my use of CAD dictates Windows over Linux or OSX.

            CAD has exposed me to some UI conventions that I still can't believe aren't more widely adopted such as Pie Menus. I have an interest in 'pervasive computing' only because I've uses for a 3D scanner.

            I'm sanguine about swappable batteries, learnt the hard way that SD cards on phones are a sub optimal experience. I'm dubious that a completely modular phone is useful, but feel that a bottom edge-mounted USB port is not ideal for expanding a phones capabilities for a whole range of niche devices.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Wasps

              "I'm sanguine about swappable batteries..."

              That may be you, but I've seen enough bulging batteries in the last five years to not trust them enough to leave them enclosed in a non-serviceable case. I consider them a fire risk so insist on them being removable.

              1. D@v3

                Re: bulging batteries

                Can happen any where.

                I'm currently mourning the loss of my Pebble Round. The other day the case popped open, due to the battery swelling, and of course now that there is no more Pebble, chances of a service are, slim, to say the least.

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Wasps

      Emergency calls are another matter entirely. If *ANYTHING* technologically gets in their way, Apple have not just failed but broken the law too, most likely.

      More likely: Someone broke my nose last night and now I can't call my parents. Put on your makeup and it doesn't recognise you any more. Train it to the makeup face and it doesn't recognise the un-made-up one. Change your hairstyle and it won't let you in, etc. etc. Drag queens are really going to have a hard time, or start carrying two iPhones...

      Though it should have a passcode, we've basically gone back to the lock screen being as secure as a passcode. Maybe slight convenience added, but if that's at the cost of ANY security whatsoever, then it's downhill.

    3. pug0772

      Re: Wasps

      An excellent point. Except, you can still make an emergency call with the phone locked. Oh, and you can still unlock the phone with the passcode. Other than those 2 points that is an excellent observation...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You give them everything and even pay for your own subjugation

    How long until all of your Biometric data ends up with Homeland Security, how stupid are Apple users?

    1. Hans 1 Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: You give them everything and even pay for your own subjugation

      how stupid are Apple users?

      Just as dumb as Windows Ph0ne users ...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: You give them everything and even pay for your own subjugation

        "how stupid are Apple users?

        Just as dumb as Windows Ph0ne users ..."

        That's a bit harsh!

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: You give them everything and even pay for your own subjugation

      The data never leaves the iPhone's secure enclave. Besides, unless you have managed to fly under the radar by avoiding government buildings and various public places in major cities like NYC and London that already have facial recognition technology tied into their security cameras your facial biometrics are already on file.

      If you've ever been arrested, joined the military, bought a gun (in the US) or applied to get past TSA lines more quickly they have your fingerprints on file as well. It is much easier to use your fingerprints on file to break into your phone than to use facial recognition data to do so because of the depth sensing. Though of course if the government is willing to devote enough resources to you, they'll find a way.

  18. jnievele

    It's 2017, and The Reg still has people who write "PIN Number"? Seriously?

    1. CT

      PIN numbers

      Cut them some slack - PIN number is common enough. And in spoken language it might conceivably eradicate some ambiguity (PIN the number versus pin the pointy thing). Admittedly the context usually gives it away.

      And we're using natural language, not a programming language, so it doesn't have to be complete:

      - my car's passed its MOT --> MOT test

      and it can be redundant:

      - 5am in the morning --> 5 in the morning / 5am

      - it's got an LCD display --> it's got an LCD

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: PIN numbers

        - my car's passed its MOT --> MOT test

        - my car's[sic] passed its Ministry of Transport --> Ministry of Transport Test.

        Note how the T in MOT does not mean Test.

        See icon.

    2. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      It's 2017, and The Reg still has people who write "PIN Number"?

      Is that the code you enter into the ATM Machine?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are they (re)inventing Face Off (c) 1997 technology too...

    For when the enclave isn't as secure as they thought?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    £1149 holy shit my mac book pro cost less than that and it has a headphone socket

  21. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Boffin

    Making a spectacle?

    Given the fun I always have trying to get through the ePassport gates at the airport when I forget to take my glasses off, I would also wonder if we're going to see iPhone X users having similar issues, or heaven help them actually having to take their shades off to unlock their phones...

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Silence of the lambs

    Is it resistant to the Hannibal Lechter attack?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Silence of the lambs

      Some lunatic is about to rip your head off, and your worried he might access your secret stash if dick pics?

  23. Old_JP
    Facepalm

    Get the bullets right!

    Its a Magic bullet nor Silver bullet - just saying......

  24. cheesey01

    I am looking forward to the queues at Tube stations as iPhoneX owners hold up their phones to their faces and wait for it to unlock, followed by a further delay while they position the phone optimally on the gate for the NFC chip to work

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sleeping?

    Seems like it would be EASIER to unlock a sleeping person's iPhone with Face ID without permission. With the thumbprint, you have to press the person's finger to the sensor. With Face ID, you merely have to hold it near their face, no direct contact. Of course this would be no use if you sleep face-down. It remains to be determined how much of your face must be visible, so burying part of your face in a pillow is still possibly secure.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sleeping?

      Watch the presentation, unless the person sleeps with their eyes open it won’t work.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Sleeping?

        "Watch the presentation, unless the person sleeps with their eyes open it won’t work."

        I have a few desk-bound colleagues who seem to be able to do that quite quite well. Years of practice.

      2. Nifty

        Re: Sleeping?

        I had a schoolmate who indeed could be asleep while sitting bolt upright in the classroom, with eyes open.

        No doubt it's a recolonised condition affecting x%.

        Still, the scenario is not hard to imagine: Drug dropped into drink Victim falls into drugged sleep. Eyelids held open. Jobs a good'n.

  26. Matdamon

    New ways to have a car crash

    Google has every price of obscene functionality in Maps: The "bonging" "would you like to go the quicker route" and 25 button pressed to begin navigation.

    Apple now needs you to hold the phone in front of the road ahead of you.

    Yes people will use it whilst driving..

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: New ways to have a car crash

      "Apple now needs you to hold the phone in front of the road ahead of you."

      If some of the twonks I see driving are anything to go by, they'll use a windscreen sucker mount and place directly in front of their faces.

  27. Hyper72

    Purpose

    Well, Apple themselves mentioned at the keynote that biometric locks will never be perfect,- the only comment during the entire presentation that was plain honest rather than 100% upbeat super positive marketing droid drivel.

    The purpose of this type of lock is the same as the door lock to your house, to create a reasonable barrier suitable for the common purpose. The average phone thief will not have access to multiple lidar scans of your face and 3D printers capable of making better face masks that those Hollywood masks Apple already tested against. Those average thieves just want to re-purpose the hardware, not steal your information from the phone because of the difficulty level involved.

    If you require better security, feeling CIA is after you, you will instead disable biometric access and configure your phone to require a long password.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Purpose

      "If you require better security, feeling CIA is after you, you will instead disable biometric access and configure your phone to require a long password."

      But what if you have a bad head for passwords, too? I've yet to hear a practical solution that doesn't involve permanent parts of the body or a decent memory.

  28. seatiger

    FBI says Thanks!

    So the feds only need to show you your phone and it´s unlocked.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: FBI says Thanks!

      That's why Apple added the disable where you hit the sleep/wake button five times and it will only unlock with the password. There should be enough time to do that when you hear the knock and "open up this is the FBI!"

      If it is a no-knock raid and they catch you sleeping too bad, but if you think that's a possibility for you you might want to consider not using biometrics and instead using a nice long password and always being super paranoid about where you enter it in case of bystanders or hidden cameras!

      Courts in some parts of the US were already holding that it is OK for the police to force you to unlock your phone using your fingerprint - and no phone has a fingerprint reader that isn't able to be fooled with your finger so they don't even need your help to do it. So Face ID isn't changing the game any. It is probably more of a problem for a jealous spouse who can grab your phone, hold it in front of your face to unlock it, then run and lock herself in the bathroom and check your texts to see if you've been naughty :)

      1. D@v3

        Re: sleep/wake button five times...

        "That's why Apple added the disable where you hit the sleep/wake button five times and it will only unlock with the password."

        I've seen a few people mention this, and it sounds like a good idea. I'm assuming it's an iOs11 thing? as it doesn't work on (otherwise) up to date 6s. Can't find anything in the settings either.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: sleep/wake button five times...

          Yes, it is an iOS 11 feature.

  29. Prophet Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
    Holmes

    Apple said the chance of defeating TouchID was 1 in 50,000 and the chance of defeating FaceID was 1 in 1,000,000.

    Apple also said the evil twin/lookalike would be required to enter the password of the genuine owner. Also, the FaceID was intelligent enough to adapt to changes in owner’s face over time, including the growing a beard. Photos won't work because they don't have physical depth and are not heat/infrared pictures.

    1. Evil Genius

      As Sir Terry noted. Million to one chances happen nine times out of ten.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        The million in one chance basically means that some random person won't unlock your phone by accident - though it would be an interesting thing to try if you ever ran into someone who was your doppelganger!

        The million in one chance doesn't necessarily tell us anything about how difficult it is to deliberately deceive if you had access to photographs of someone from multiple angles, a quality 3D printer able to print in multiple materials, and so forth. If it is expensive/difficult enough to fool that way, then those who really want access may resort to XKCD's $5 hammer.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          And if your target's a masochist?

  30. Martin Pittaway

    Petty jealousy

    Oh my the silliness of it all. Apple are the , most moral, operator. They deliberately go out of their way to protect everything we do with the products they create, and because, they, Apple, thought of it first, all the silly people can do criticise.

    HOW PATHETIC!

  31. 2Fat2Bald

    I have no idea how to do this.... but.

    How about getting multiple images of a face from different angles, then using that to work out the measurements of the face. Once you have multiple angles that ought to become easier. Scoping social media ought to give you enough images to get a pretty good impression of the face from different angles.

    One your have that, you can then make a 3D printed mask of the face and print/paint facial features on to it, also garnered from social media. A few years ago this would have been too pixelated, but now days most phones have pretty decent cameras in them, so high def images are easy.

    I doubt it's easy, as I say I have no idea how to do it, but equally I know that with enough maths it ought to be possible.

    1. Martin Pittaway

      Duh

      You should go watch the video before commenting.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Duh

        They'll just come up with a better mask material. Say one that's IR-transmissive.

  32. David Roberts Silver badge

    Reversing the logic

    How about configuring the lock when you are wearing a mask?

    Not much help for everyday use in the bus queue but would mess with the head of anyone trying the various dubious tactics suggested up thread.

    Alternaively, has anyone checked if it works with a cat?

    Gives you two fat purr (sorry) authentication.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about Dave (my brother) with Bosseyedness?

    What about Dave (my brother) with Bosseyedness. Will he be able to unlock the iPhone X?

    It's no joke. We're looking at you.

    ITCrowd....

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHLbwwqCY9o

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVjnc3i_I1g

  34. cambsukguy

    I can't help thinking Iris recognition is superior

    Absolutely requires open eyes.

    Isn't be fooled by a photo, even one wrapped around a mannequin.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: I can't help thinking Iris recognition is superior

      What about a photo OF an iris?

  35. Ian Joyner

    Security

    What we are trying to do is to make computers as easy as possible to use for legitimate users, but as difficult to use as possible for illegitimate users.

    Those two extremes are difficult to achieve.

    Security is based on what you are, what you know, and what you have. Facial-feature recognition is the what you are factor. Two-factor authentication is also important since other mechanisms make things more secure.

    Kerchoff's principles are still important.

    >>In 1883 Auguste Kerckhoffs [2] wrote two journal articles on La Cryptographie Militaire,[3] in which he stated six design principles for military ciphers. Translated from French, they are:[4]

    The system must be practically, if not mathematically, indecipherable;

    It should not require secrecy, and it should not be a problem if it falls into enemy hands;

    It must be possible to communicate and remember the key without using written notes, and correspondents must be able to change or modify it at will;

    It must be applicable to telegraph communications;

    It must be portable, and should not require several persons to handle or operate;

    Lastly, given the circumstances in which it is to be used, the system must be easy to use and should not be stressful to use or require its users to know and comply with a long list of rules.

    Some are no longer relevant given the ability of computers to perform complex encryption, but his second axiom, now known as Kerckhoffs's principle, is still critically important.<<

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerckhoffs%27s_principle

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Security

      Tiny bit of an ask.

      "The system must be practically, if not mathematically, indecipherable;"

      Quantum computers and rubber hoses mean this is increasingly unlikely.

      "It should not require secrecy, and it should not be a problem if it falls into enemy hands;"

      It WILL require secrecy given how much the enemy can figure out already without the ciphertext. If the enemy is paranoid (and one must assume that), not even steganography can be considered reliable.

      "It must be possible to communicate and remember the key without using written notes, and correspondents must be able to change or modify it at will;"

      Impossible given electronic memory versus human memory, the latter of which cannot be considered reliable nor safe against rubber hoses. What if one party has bad memory?

      "Lastly, given the circumstances in which it is to be used, the system must be easy to use and should not be stressful to use or require its users to know and comply with a long list of rules."

      Easy to use usually means easy to break. Even the one-time pad is vulnerable (by intercepting the pad).

  36. Blubster

    The system doesn't inspire confidence when it fails to work at a prestigious launch ceremony. More a case of marketing the next must have `feature` than increased security.

    2025: Coming to an iPhone near you, an RFID chip inserted under the skin of the owner linked to the phone so making it only accessible by the owner. Imagine it, vast queues of fanbois lining up to get injected with the chip on their way into an Apple store to buy the iPhone 20. Perhaps I should patent this idea to prevent Apple from stealing it, er beg your pardon, adapting the technology as they have done many times in the past.

  37. DerekCurrie Bronze badge
    Go

    Multifactor Authentication Is The Ideal. Let's Get There Already.

    Convenience and Security are in constant contention. Holding up your phone to your face and instantly having access is great for grannies and girls on the go. But it's obviously not great security, especially when someone can grab your device, hold it to your face and have access to the Crown Jewels.

    What I'd like Apple to do is provide access to full multifactor authentication when we want it. That means our devices would ALSO require a passcode before access is provided. Or how about supporting secure ID dongles, such as the YubiKey? It has to be plugged into the Lightning port before access. Or how about requiring ALL THREE? That's what I want. Three factor authentication.

    Reading assignment:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-factor_authentication

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Multifactor Authentication Is The Ideal. Let's Get There Already.

      OK, then. Suppose you LOSE your YubiKey? OR it gets STOLEN? Now you're locked out of your phone. Security is now in the way of your productivity; what good is security if it's turned against you? And security people wonder why so many people are so against hoop-jumping...

  38. Jin

    Face ID - Nice way to get criminals delighted

    So long as a fallback password is needed in case of false rejection, biometrics brings down security as explained in this video.

    - Biometrics in Cyber Space - "below-one" factor authentication

    https://youtu.be/wuhB5vxKYlg

  39. Jin

    What is the FRR/FNMR when the FAR/FMR is claimed to be one millionths?

    The FAR/FMR (false acceptance/false match) of Face ID, reportedly one millionths, would make sense only when it comes with the corresponding FRR/FNMR (false rejection/false non-match) and when the values are empirical, not theoretical. I expect The Register to obtain the whole picture with all the empirical figures.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    would not get an apple phone even if someone else paid for it

    so only idle curiosity here - which isnt enough to make me sit through any video...

    so tell me, how well does it cope with non-hipster, ungroomed, live and evolving, real beards ?

    or people who work in extremely dirty/dusty environments - doesnt happen often, but there are days when I look like I've been working in a coal mine, and more frequently my skin tone is affected by high heat and intense sunlight.

    Obvious answer is that people who work hard arent the target demographic, its baristas, not lumberjacks, that traditionally buy apple..

    anon for mask icon

  41. kendough

    So what's to stop people using a small photo of the queen or donald trump to set up and then unlock their phone?

    Remember this is a face as an ID but doesn't have to be your face, at least I assume it doesn't have to be your face within the t&cs.

    This is ultimately as pervasive as the harmless idea that a sole and real name email address is a good idea for all your digital activities.

    Before you know it your face as a digital tracking tool will be everywhere. At least in the commercial space, now is an opportunity to spoof the system (Transport Tycoon style random faces?) from the start, at least if you care about enjoying some anonymity while walking around shops with curb in a few years time!

  42. Chad.Chandramohan

    We will soon be seeing this in a movie.

    Good guy: You can't shoot me. Only I know the password.

    Bad guy: oh yes I can, I just need you face.

    Booom!

    Of course movies aren't real life. But then at $1000 neither is an iPhone X...

  43. Jin

    What False Acceptance and False Rejection Mean for Face ID?

    What FAR means when it does not come with the corresponding FRR?

    Answer: It means nothing.

    According to some tech media¸the FAR (false acceptance rate) of iPhone X Face ID is said to be one millionth, which might be viewed as considerably better than the reported one 50,000th of Touch ID.

    It is not the case, however. The fact is that which is better or worse can by no means be decided when the corresponding FRR (false rejection rates) of Face ID and Touch ID, which are in the trade-off relation with FAR, are not known. This crucial observation is seldom reported by major tech media. It is really sad to see the misguided tech media spreading the misguiding information in a huge scale.

    The only meaningful fact that we can logically get confirmed by the trade-off between FAR and FRR is that the biometrics deployed with a password as a fallback means against false rejection would only provide the level of security lower than that of a password-only authentication.

    Face ID, which brings down security as such, could be recommended only for those who want better convenience, as in the case of Touch ID. If recommended for better security, it would only get criminals and tyrants delighted.

    Security professionals are expected to speak up.

    30-second video - https://youtu.be/7UAgtPtmUbk

  44. pomegranate

    I wonder how it recognizes a face reliably without being trained with any wrong faces.

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