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  (Source: Apple)
Chaos Computer Club unlocks iPhones with high resolution-image based tactic, points out legal dangers

For iPhone owners that use the fingerprint sensor as a password, be aware that it's pretty much useless from a security perspective.  It turns out that as with past inexpensive fingerprint readers, the system could easily be tricked by showing it a photograph of the target's fingerprint.

A site sponsored a crowd-funded competition to see who could be the first to crack the security feature found on the new Apple, Inc. (AAPLiPhone 5S.  The prize -- which included a pledge of $10,000 USD from a Chicago-based venture capital fund -- attracted a lot of attention.

I. CCC Makes Short Work of Apple's Supposedly Secure Sensor

It appears that the first group to successfully circumvent the sensor's security was the veteran Chaos Computer Club (CCC), a German hacker ring that has accomplished many challenging hacks and exploits over the years.

The trick -- as a CCC member who goes by the handle "Starbug" states -- is to use at least 2,400 dots per inch (dpi) for the photograph of the target's fingerprint, and 1,200 dpi for the printed copy.  Comments "Starbug", "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.  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 hack is demonstrated in a video posted by the CCC to YouTube:


The only "trick" outside the resolution is that you need to print onto a transparent sheet and after printing; you need to lift the fingerprint onto a polymer using "pink latex milk or white woodglue".  The latex layer is then cured and lifted, and breathed upon to "make it a tiny bit moist and then placed onto the sensor to unlock the phone."

Don't make it too moist, though as the fingerprint sensor can only be used with "dry" fingers.

iPhone 5S sensor
The iPhone 5S's sensor can easily be tricked with a "fake finger". [Image Source: Apple]
 
It's important to note that the only part of the process that involves the target user -- getting their fingerprint -- can be done quickly and surreptitiously.  The remaining steps can be taken at their own pace at a secure location of the unlocker's choosing.

II. Another Danger -- Police Seizing Your Data

CCC spokesperson Frank Rieger chides Apple and others for proliferating the myth of security regarding fingerprint-based biometrics.  He states:

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.  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.

The group raises another interesting point regarding smartphone unlocking and legality.  The group writes:

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.

Police arrest
If you get arrested, and have an iPhone with fingerprint unlock enabled, police can easily get ahold of your private data. [Image Source: BUSINESS, GOVERNMENT AND SOCIETY FIVE]

In other words, the supposed "crowning" feature on Apple's new smartphone may be worse than worthless -- it may be luring users into a false sense of security and compromising their data.

The site istouchidhackedyet.com says the CCC was the first group or individual to report a successful hack on the sensor.  The site is in the process of confirming the CCC's hack.  Once confirmed they'll receive the horde of goodies, including sweet, sweet cash.

Sources: CCC [press release], Is Touch ID Hacked Yet [YES!], YouTube [CCC]



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Easy to do!
By ExarKun333 on 9/23/2013 2:15:33 PM , Rating: 2
Keep in mind that if someone steals your phone, you most likely have MULTIPLE great fingerprint templates all over your phone. A small investment of capital, and a good thief can steal many of these phones and unlock very easily. I also wouldn't be surprised if many folks will be less secure thinking their phone is safe, with the fingerprint scanner.




RE: Easy to do!
By flatrock on 9/23/2013 2:48:38 PM , Rating: 2
I hadn't thought of that even though it is pretty obvious in hindsight. If they steal the phone, they have everything they need, and the rest isn't overly complex. The resolution of the camera and printer are common fall under the realm of commonplace. No special equipment needed.


RE: Easy to do!
By chripuck on 9/23/2013 3:03:27 PM , Rating: 2
Use your pinky, problem solved. Who uses their phone with their pinky? And if a criminal kidnaps you and cuts your finger off who missess their pinky that much anyways?


RE: Easy to do!
By ipay on 9/23/2013 4:14:24 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
who missess their pinky that much anyways
Girl friends too scared of anything bigger back there.


RE: Easy to do!
By cochy on 9/23/2013 3:10:31 PM , Rating: 2
That is a good point. I wonder if the quality from prints obtained off the screen will work in this case.


“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith














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