Apple’s claim that its Face ID security feature on the iPhone X is more secure has become a contested point. The Face ID technology of Apple uses a TrueDepth camera system which projects 30,000 dots over the face of a user in order to come up with a three-dimensional detailed mathematical model necessary in the verification of a user’s identity. Apple has pitched the technology as offering ease of use and convenience.
“Nothing has ever been simpler, more natural and effortless. Face ID is the future of how we unlock our smartphones and protect our sensitive information,” said Apple’s worldwide marketing senior vice president, Phil Schiller, at the launch of the iPhone X on September 12.
Face ID is also capable of learning how the face of a user looks like and consequently will be capable of detecting even when behavior and appearance changes due to ageing, weight loss, and adoption of a new look such a growing a beard, getting a tattoo or a piercing. The eyes of the user have to stay open though and engage with the device in order to unlock. This serves to prevent the device from getting hacked by use of a stolen photo.
According to Apple the false acceptance rate of Face ID is one in a million. This is more secure than Touch ID which has a false acceptance rate of one in 50,000. Face ID technology also has the abilities to tell when someone is using a video or picture instead of a real face since it is able to detect ‘liveness’ by monitoring facial movements.
Critics of the technology say that if the technology turns out to have serious security flaws it will prove catastrophic for the company especially with regards to Apple’s ambitions to expand the uptake of Apple Pay. Previously facial recognition technology has been questioned over fears that faces can be scanned theoretically making it possible for the police to be able to access a device without the permission of the owner since a face scan does not constitute a violation of the Fifth Amendment.
According to SANS Institute, an information security company, capturing face images is more difficult compared to capturing other biometrics. And for users whose skin tones are darker, it is also less user-friendly. Apple, however, insists that with its facial recognition technology it has been able to overcome the weaknesses.