The iPhone 5s Biometric Security Already Hacked
Estimated reading time: 11 minute(s)
Like usual, that wasn’t long. Apple’s new touchID has been hacked, and using everyday means at that. I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the fingerprint scanner isn’t flawless. Now this doesn’t mean that the new iPhone is less secure than the old ones, the regular passcode can also be bypassed. And neither methods are available to just anyone, after all they’d have to get your fingerprint somehow first. Or simply be very good at hacking in order to bypass the security by software. Not a likely scenario for everyday users. Still you can get instructions on how they did it below. Regardless, it shows us that you can never be completely safe. I kind of considered the biometric security more of a fun add on than a full blown security system anyway.
The biometrics hacking team of the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) has successfully bypassed the biometric security of Apple’s TouchID using easy everyday means. A fingerprint of the phone user, photographed from a glass surface, was enough to create a fake finger that could unlock an iPhone 5s secured with TouchID. This demonstrates – again – that fingerprint biometrics is unsuitable as access control method and should be avoided.
Apple had released the new iPhone with a fingerprint sensor that was supposedly much more secure than previous fingerprint technology. A lot of bogus speculation about the marvels of the new technology and how hard to defeat it supposedly is had dominated the international technology press for days.
“In reality, Apple’s sensor has just a higher resolution compared to the sensors so far. So we only needed to ramp up the resolution of our fake”, said the hacker with the nickname Starbug, who performed the critical experiments that led to the successful circumvention of the fingerprint locking. “As we have said now for more than years, fingerprints should not be used to secure anything. You leave them everywhere, and it is far too easy to make fake fingers out of lifted prints.”
The method follows the steps outlined in this how-to with materials that can be found in almost every household: First, the fingerprint of the enroled user is photographed with 2400 dpi resolution. The resulting image is then cleaned up, inverted and laser printed with 1200 dpi onto transparent sheet with a thick toner setting. Finally, pink latex milk or white woodglue is smeared into the pattern created by the toner onto the transparent sheet. After it cures, the thin latex sheet is lifted from the sheet, breathed on to make it a tiny bit moist and then placed onto the sensor to unlock the phone. This process has been used with minor refinements and variations against the vast majority of fingerprint sensors on the market.
“We hope that this finally puts to rest the illusions people have about fingerprint biometrics. It is plain stupid to use something that you can´t change and that you leave everywhere every day as a security token”, said Frank Rieger, spokesperson of the CCC. “The public should no longer be fooled by the biometrics industry with false security claims. Biometrics is fundamentally a technology designed for oppression and control, not for securing everyday device access.” Fingerprint biometrics in passports has been introduced in many countries despite the fact that by this global roll-out no security gain can be shown.
iPhone users should avoid protecting sensitive data with their precious biometric fingerprint not only because it can be easily faked, as demonstrated by the CCC team. Also, you can easily be forced to unlock your phone against your will when being arrested. Forcing you to give up your (hopefully long) passcode is much harder under most jurisdictions than just casually swiping your phone over your handcuffed hands.
Worth to mention is that Chaos Computer Club, the guys who did it, they got their iphone 5c for free, from a company called Heise Security team. However there are still people giving out the new iphone! You can check this one out, which is from a MobileFun.co.uk, a friend of Gadgetzz.
Interested in Iphone 5c covers?