Black Hat researchers demonstrate unlocking Face ID using ‘X-Glasses’

Tencent researchers have found a way to unlock another person’s iPhone by using tape, glasses and the unconscious person’s facial features. At the Las Vegas Black Hat conference, the group from Tencent demonstrated how they could fool the iPhone’s liveness detection feature, which was advertised to distinguish between real and fake facial features.

To get the Face ID to unlock, the team made prototype ‘X-Glasses’ that had black and white tape to resemble that of an eye. They then put it over a sleeping person’s face and used it to access his iPhone and send money to themselves through an app.

For this to happen, the person must be unconscious and his or her iPhone must be available. Moreover, glasses must be placed in a way to not wake the individual up. Researchers suggest that biometrics companies add identity authentication and improve their audio and video synthesis for better detection.

Apple has Face ID disabling measures that can be turned on by hitting the wake/sleep button on the iPhone 5 times quickly. This removes coercion and forced unblocking using the smartphone’s facial recognition.