On Tuesday, Apple unveiled the newest iterations of the iPhone, including the nearly $1,000 iPhone X. These iPhones come with advanced features including FaceID technology, which allows you to unlock the device by simply pointing the forward-facing camera at yourself. But, this new feature may actually end up being less secure than previous security options in some circumstances.
As reported by Forbes, Apple asserts FaceID is significantly more secure than TouchID, the security option that uses fingerprints to unlock a device. Apple says that there is a less than one in 50,000 chance that a print other than one belonging to the owner can unlock the phone. With FaceID, the odds of unauthorized entry based on the use of someone else’s face is less than one in 1,000,000.
While those who struggle with TouchID, have trouble remembering passcodes or prefer a less cumbersome entry method than PIN-based access may be rejoicing, using FaceID also comes with some caveats.
FaceID technology could also be seen as a boon for law enforcement, as they can now gain access to an iPhone by just pointing the phone at the owner’s face. While police may be able to physically force a person to provide a fingerprint for TouchID entry, FaceID provides them with an option that is harder for the person to resist.
It is important to note that FaceID does require the person’s eyes to be open before the iPhone will unlock, so resisting the attempt is possible. This also prevents other people, such as friends or family members, by gaining entry when the assigned user is sleeping.
Otherwise, attempting to turn your face away can also prevent entry. However, if a law enforcement official is determined to gain access, they could hold the device in front of the user for an extended period, increasing the chance that they will capture their image at the right moment. Additionally, they could attempt to catch the user by surprise in an effort to prevent attempts to avert one’s gaze.
Whether this is seen as a problem often depends on individual views regarding personal privacy and public safety.
Currently, law enforcement officers have the legal right to force someone to provide a fingerprint to unlock a phone, so forcing a FaceID may fall into the same category. However, police officers cannot make someone to provide a password, passcode, or PIN.
Use of FaceID on the iPhone is optional, so users can choose to turn off the feature and use other methods to secure their phone.