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A China-based cyber security researcher, Wish Wu, canceled his briefing on how he could crack biometric facial recognition on Apple Inc iPhones to be held at the Black Hat Asia hacking conference 2019. In a message to Reuters on Twitter, Wu said that his talk entitled ‘Bypass Strong Face ID: Everyone Can Deceive Depth and IR Camera and Algorithms’ was called as ‘misleading’ by his employer, and he was requested to withdraw his briefing from Black Hat- one of the most prestigious cybersecurity conferences- to be held at Singapore this year.

In late December, Black Hat withdrew an abstract of the talk from their website after Wu’s employer- Ant Financial- uncovered problems with the research. The abstract stated that Face ID could be hacked with an image printed on an ordinary black-and-white printer and some tape.

Ant Financial said in a statement that “’The research on the face ID verification mechanism is incomplete and would be misleading if presented”. Wu told Reuters that ‘In order to ensure the credibility and maturity of the research results, we decided to cancel the speech’. He further added that he agreed with the decision to withdraw his talk, saying he was only able to reproduce hacks on iPhone X under certain conditions, but that it did not work with iPhone XS and XS Max.

Black Hat conference spokeswoman Kimberly Samra said, “Black Hat accepted the talk after believing the hack could be replicated based on the materials provided by the researcher”.

According to Apple, there is a one in 1 million chance a random person could unlock a Face ID, and 1 in 50,000 chance that would happen with the iPhone’s fingerprint sensor. Thus, the idea that Face ID could be defeated or rather hacked into is disturbing. Especially because Face ID is used to lock down numerous functions on millions of iPhones which include banking apps, healthcare apps, emails, text messages, photos and much more. If fallen into the wrong hands, the hack could have damaging consequences and possibly compromise sensitive information.

Head over to Reuters for more insights on this news.

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