Blog Entry For 24/9/2013
Apple's Touch ID Cracked
The gauntlet was thrown down, and the prize fund secured.
As a little background, a micro venture capital firm funded jackpot (bit of a mouthful) was offered for any proof that Apple's new and highly prized fingerprint system , aka TouchID, was fallible. Certainly the challenge alone was bound to provide an interesting response, and proof has been supplied to satisfy a substancial payout. The solution, curiously, involves access to an original print from which a high resolution latex or woodglue copy can be made. Simple application is all that is required to trick the scanner into unlocking the phone. Seems surprisingly and unexpectedly easy. I'm rather disappointed.
What I find curious, given the publicity in the run up to the launch of the iPhone 5s and it's innovative fingerprint reader, was the emphasis on the sensor specifications. The secret sauce was a sensor 170 microns thin that, as well as optical scanning at 500ppi, also employed capacitive sensing in additon to the scanning of sub-dermal patternation. The idea was that, given the intricacy and combination of metrics measured, it should prove quite difficult to circumvent.
So the question in my mind is how such a crack manages to foil the cacpative and sub-dermal metrics of the sensor. According to the details so far, the foil fingerprint can be a simple latex or woodglue copy. It would be a curious turn of events if either substance, coincidently, provides a similar capacitative profile to that of skin.
What is certain is that recent events will be a unwelcome embarassment for Apple. Their response shall be interesting, and no doubt board meetings will be taking place as we speak before release of a careful, PR crafted response. Personally I'm hoping for a positive response, and to see Apple take it on the chin in good humour, and to work on bringing out version 2.0. However it plays out over the coming weeks, it certainly seems the world of biometric security has sustained an unwelcome blow.9/24/2013 Tags: apple 5s touch id cracked