Skip to main content

Heavy sleepers, beware: Researchers bypass Apple FaceID using glasses with tape

Heavy sleepers should probably not leave their iPhones lying around, after a team of security researchers exposed a vulnerability with the FaceID facial recognition system using an ordinary pair of glasses and two colors of tape.

In the session at Black Hat USA 2019 titled Biometric Authentication Under Threat: Liveness Detection Hacking, researchers from Tencent demonstrated how to exploit a specific vulnerability in FaceID.

Related Videos

Liveness detection is part of the biometric authentication process that separates real facial features from the fake ones. Part of the process is determining whether a person is awake with eyes open, or asleep with eyes closed. If the iris and pupil are not detected, then the device will not unlock.

Meanwhile, Apple’s facial recognition system allows iPhone owners to unlock their devices even while they are wearing glasses. However, once FaceID detects glasses, it skips extracting information from the eye area.

Combining these two features, the Tencent researchers figured out a way to bypass FaceID by sticking black tape on the center of each lens, and then white tape in the middle of each black tape. The black tape and white tape represent the iris and pupil, respectively.

Once the glasses are worn by victims, holding up their iPhone to their faces will trick FaceID and unlock the devices, giving the attacker access.

Regular iPhone owners will not have to worry about the FaceID vulnerability, as it will be difficult to put glasses on sleeping people without waking them up. The exploit will be effective when the victim is unconscious though, which will probably raise more alarms than an unlocked iPhone.

The method presented by the Tencent researchers is similar to the adversarial glasses that have baffled facial recognition systems. There have been other ways of fooling the technology such as a baseball cap studded with LEDs and a mash-up of a mask, but the glasses with tape trick appears to be the easiest to pull off so far.

Apple itself was at the Black Hat conference to announce an expanded bug bounty program that will pay $1 million for researchers who can discover a “zero-click full chain kernel execution attack with persistence.”

Editors' Recommendations

You aren’t ready for this Galaxy S23 vs. iPhone 14 Pro camera test
Deep purple iPhone 14 Pro and Cream Galaxy S23 crossed over

Samsung’s Galaxy S23 is here, and it's quickly become one of the best phones you can buy in 2023. For $800, you’re getting a small but mighty phone with Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chipset, long-lasting battery life, and a powerful triple lens camera system with a 50-megapixel main shooter.

But how does one of the best Android phones stack up against Apple’s smallest flagship, the iPhone 14 Pro? It has just as many cameras as the Galaxy S23, a powerful 48MP main camera, and costs $200 more than Samsung's handset.

Read more
Nothing Phone 2: news, release date and price rumors, and more
Nothing Phone 1 with Glyph lights active.

The Nothing Phone 1 made its debut in July 2022, and it had a reasonable amount of hype behind it due to the involvement of Carl Pei, a co-founder of OnePlus. It was a quirky phone due to the unique light show on the back that makes it stand out from the competition, but on the software front, it’s very similar to other Android phones out there. It received mixed reviews, though the consensus leaned more on the positive side.

This year, we’re expecting the Nothing Phone 2, as confirmed by Pei in January during MWC 2023. Here’s everything we know so far about the Nothing Phone 2!
Nothing Phone 2: design

Read more
6 years later, the iPhone X still does one thing better than the iPhone 14 Pro
iPhone X.

I’ve been an iPhone user since the very beginning, starting with the original iPhone. You know, the one with the 3.5-inch display that was perfect at the time, making it super easy to use a phone with one hand? As the years go by, the iPhone — and every other smartphone out there — just get bigger and bigger. We now have phones that with almost 7-inch displays, and honestly, I don’t understand how anyone can comfortably use these giant phones — especially if you have smaller hands!

With the iPhone, we’ve gone from 3.5-inch to 4-inches, then 4.7-inches to 5.8-inches, and now the standard 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch of the iPhone 14/iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Plus/iPhone 14 Pro Max, respectively. I personally use an iPhone 14 Pro as my primary device, and while I have gotten used to the 6.1-inch size over the past few years, I still think it’s too big. In fact, the last perfect size iPhone was the iPhone XS with the 5.8-inch display ... and I really wish Apple would bring it back.
5.8 inches was a perfect middle ground

Read more