Using Your Face to Unlock Your Phone: a PI’s thoughts on the iPhone X

 

 

If Apple makes facial information useful by integrating it into iPhone technology, there will soon be other applications.

You may think that if you see your face all the time, people may be the least private thing you have, but that is not true. Apple recently announced the new features on its new deluxe model of the iPhone, the iPhone X. The star feature is the introduction of facial recognition software. From the people who brought you the fingerprint to unlock the phone, we now have a phone that recognizes the face of its owner.

Apple has tested the feature extensively and even created latex mock-ups from people to make sure they do not unlock the phones. (They did not.) Since it is Apple and I have enough confidence in the company to use one of their computers, I am pretty sure the function works. I do not know anyone who had trouble identifying the fingerprint that started with the iPhone 5S. Say what you want about Apple; their products.

The first question that raises this new fold in electronic identification is whether it can be caught or whether it is just a temporary gimmick. For the time being, the face detection is only available on the super deluxe (and super expensive) X model, so that Apple does not hold on to the whole line. By putting it on their most expensive phone, they even suggest that face recognition for statuesters and Apple geeks is more like a child’s play than something people really want or want. Of course, if it catches, we can be pretty sure that it will be standard for future iPhone models.

There is no doubt that the fingerprint recognition technology that is currently available is useful: it makes it easy to unlock your phone. You only need one finger. I even made it one-handed. This may sound like a senseless comfort, but there are times when you need your phone to be open without being in the writing position. The fingerprint technology is also extremely efficient: it unlocks your phone faster than entering it in your password.

I suspect that the facial recognition process probably takes more time than the fingerprint. When you open the phone with your fingerprint, your finger is already on the phone. Knowing how to align the phone to capture all the important details of your face will be an important part of the functionality of the face recognition software. At least a learning curve will be involved. I will not suggest that unlocking your phone with your face takes two minutes, but it does not sound like the kind of operation that can be done as fast as the fingerprint test that started with the 5S.

However, there are more problems than the mechanics of a telephone.

The biggest potential problem with a phone recognizing your face is that more personal information is placed on the Internet. Although the phone itself checks fingerprints and faces (it does not have to go and check an Apple database of users), a phone is still a “hot” device and is still connected to the Internet. Cybersecurity is one of the things I deserve for my livelihood. It is a simple fact of the digital age that if anyone on a computer is connected to the Internet, anyone who is determined can get enough. The only way to keep information truly private is to keep it offline. (A good application for this is “hard” bitcoin wallets that store your financial data in a device that is not connected to the Internet for security reasons.)

Fingerprints are already a problem in this respect. The more often your fingerprint is scanned, the more frequently this unique identification of personal data is stored in a location where a hacker can get there. Your iPhone is just one of many places where you need your fingerprint: you even need “biometric scanning” to visit a leisure park in Florida. I realize that there is no army of hackers who have nothing better to do but steal your (and only your) fingerprint – but is that a way you really want to create?

It is really not unlike to leave the door open and trust that a burglar will not rob you. Everyone has forgotten to lock the house somehow, and (at least according to personal experiences), nobody has ever used my occasional gaps when closing the door. My experience in law enforcement tells me that burglars usually do not go down the street and every door until they find someone who is open – but why do they give the burglar this chance?

Not so long ago, I wrote about fingerprints and how they are unique to each person (identical twins do not have identical fingerprints) and are thus an ideal means to identify people. I’m not sure if your face is as unique as your fingerprint. They say that everyone has a doubled somewhere, and although I do not believe there is any scientific evidence, my experience as a detective has shown me that it is far, far, much easier to confuse someone on his face as based on their fingerprints. Apple has tested the technology nine times on Sunday, but my training tells me that I have to rely on fingerprints rather than faces. This suggests that this recognition of the face can indeed only be a toy. If you are really worried about the security of your phone, I do not think we recommend you to use your face to unlock it.

The simplest iPhone X will be available for very strong $ 999 and will not be available for pre-order until the end of October. I do not think I am the first one who is in my block.

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