Photo Courtesy: Apple
By Gurbir Singh, Hamilton (New Zealand), November 6, 2017:
The most expensive smartphone in history, iPhone X, has hit the stores late last week in several countries, including India.
Amongst many new features and design, this phone has a new facial recognition system that scans a 3D image of your face to verify your identity. This is then encrypted and stored on your phone.
This facial recognition feature, however, has already caused worry to some potential buyers. They are afraid that Face ID may not be secure, and some unauthorised users could find a way to circumvent it.
Is facial recognition technology really secure, and how it works?
Experts from Cyber Security Researchers of Waikato (CROW) at the University of Waikato, New Zealand say you do not have to be afraid, but you do have to be aware of what Face ID is, so you can make informed decisions.
In order to answer your questions about how secure this new feature is, this journalist contacted a team member of CROW, Cameron Brown, Assistant Research Programmer in the Faculty of Computing & Mathematical Sciences at the University of Waikato here in Hamilton, New Zealand.
According to Cameron, “When the infrared technology scans your face, the information is turned into a mathematical representation, and the data is stored in a secure enclave on the phone, seemingly safe from hackers or exploitation from developers”.
Explaining how this feature works, Cameron added, “the significant benefit of this is that the phone will contain very accurate information about your face, and therefore reduces the chances of someone else unlocking it and gaining access to your data”.
The TrueDepth camera on the phone creates a 3D map of the face, and holding a picture of someone’s face to the phone camera will not work as it is 2D and will not match the 3D face.
When asked whether there was any potential downside to this, Cameron replied, “There is one possibility, that of someone printing a 3D face of the phone owner,and using it to unlock the phone. However, due to the infrared aspect, I believe there might be some check as to the temperature of the object measured as a human face will have different temperatures to a 3D printed plastic model”.
Explaining more on the safety of Face ID feature, Cameron added “The data collected about the face is not a picture (png, jpg, etc), but it is a mathematical representation, called a depth map. It measures the difference in distance between the infrared dots on the face and the camera ...and literally thousands of measurements come from the infrared dots to represent the face”.
According to Cameron, “Not only that, the Face ID data is stored and processed in a secure enclave (on a separate chip) on the phone and...as far as I am aware, it has not been broken or accessed by hackers before."
Now, when the experts have reassured the security of this face recognition feature, the decision to buy this luxury phone lies with you.
Gurbir Singh is a New Zealand-based freelance feature Writer & Journalist. He can be contacted at: email@example.com