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Malaysian experts: Why iPhone X’s Face ID may have just solved the ‘security friction’ problem

AvantiKumar | Sept. 25, 2017
Following Apple’s iPhone X reveal, Computerworld Malaysia asks CyberSecurity Malaysia, IDC, and three digital forensics investigators to probe security and privacy concerns raised by facial recognition systems.

( Apple official) iphonex face recognition beach

Credit (Apple Official): iPhone X Face ID


  Following Computerworld Malaysia's look with IDC last week at the local premium handset sector, prompted in part by Apple's iPhone X reveal, we now ask Malaysian digital security experts to probe - from an enterprise perspective - various security and privacy concerns raised by facial recognition systems.  

As some initial social media reactions to iPhone X's Face ID indicated some privacy nerves, the experts approached for this article  were first asked to gauge the current state of play of facial recognition technologies.

Many of these concerns - such as can the iPhone be unlocked when someone is sleeping or by using spectacles, makeup or a mask and so forth - will be addressed below.

Joining this discussion are: Dato' Dr. Haji Amirudin Abdul Wahab, chief executive officer of CyberSecurity Malaysia; Jensen Ooi, IDC Asia Pacific's senior research analyst for client devices; computer forensics investigator and expert witness Krishna Rajagopal; former white hat hacker turned financial security consultant LGMS director, Fong Choong Fook;  and Azril Rahim, who is an independent threat intelligence specialist.

CWSS - Keynote Dato' Dr Amirudin - CyberSecurity Malaysia

Dr Amirudin (pic above), who as keynote at Computerworld Malaysia Security Summit earlier this year warned of emerging threat vectors, pointed out that: "Face recognition is a biometric technology that has been well explored for security access and forensics. The biometric has proven to be practical, easy to use and accurate."

Krishna Rajagopal (pic below) agreed and said that facial recognition, when done right, should serve well. "Why do I say this? I'll start by quoting this survey done in 2014, which said 52 percent of people surveyed had nothing protecting their phones - even though they had the options of a pattern, password, or PIN at their disposal."

"I think that initial facial recognition attempts have been pretty shoddy and this new Face ID [Apple's proprietary system] seems to be promising especially with Apple's claim of using the combination of : Camera + Infrared + flood illuminator + proximity sensor + ambient light sensor + 30,000 invisible dots in a dot projector," said Rajagopal.

"This means its able to differentiate a human face from a photo or a mask, recognise it in dark light, and even has a built in safety function which will refuse to unlock the phone if your eyes are closed," he said.

Dr Amirudin agreed: "From a cybersecurity perspective, biometrics technology is rather too complex to hack and with the latest trend of AI [artificial intelligence] in Deep Learning, the technology has now reached a new height."

"The iPhone X implementation of face recognition is something to look out for as Apple is well known for its advanced, useable implementation of technology," he said. "It will be very interesting to learn how this technology impacts the users especially in the sense of cybersecurity."


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