Does Apple Face ID make it easier for feds to hack the iPhone X?
The biggest announcement on Tuesday for security folk, facial recognition, may be a double-edged sword. With no home button for Touch ID, Face ID will be the primary way to unlock iPhone X. On the one-hand, the face is a unique identifier and will allow for quick and secure access. On the other, as with fingerprints, past forms of facial biometrics have been exploited with simple tricks, such as holding up a clear picture of the real user.
But Apple appears to have invested seriously in the security of Face ID. Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller said "Face ID learns your face" and can adapt to recognize changes in the user's appearance. The TrueDepth camera system of the iPhone X combines a lot of high-end tech - an infrared camera, proximity and ambient light sensors, as well as a flood illuminator.
Apple has even worked with Hollywood specialists to test mask attacks. The chance of a random person being able to unlock a device is one in a million, Schiller said. When it comes to law enforcement searches, Face ID could, in one respect, be a boon. It may be easier to force a user into opening their iPhone simply by holding it up to their face when compared to Touch ID, where police have repeatedly tried to force suspects to depress their fingerprint to unlock the phone.
Apple has added an additional login layer in iOS 11 so that when connecting an iPhone to an unknown external PC, an extra passcode is required. For feds then, even if they can unlock the phone, it doesn't mean they can extract the data inside, quite the opposite thanks to iOS 11.