10-Year-Old Unlocks Face ID on His Mother's iPhone X as Questionable Mask Spoofing Surfaces

A new video has surfaced of a 10-year-old child unlocking his mother's iPhone X with his face even though Face ID was set up with her face.


The parents, Attaullah Malik and Sana Sherwani, said their fifth-grade son Ammar Malik simply picked up his mother's new iPhone X without permission and, to their surprise, unlocked the device with his very first glance.

We are seeing a flood of videos on YouTube from iPhone users who have gotten their hands on the new iPhone X and are trying to trick the Face ID. When my wife and I received our iPhone X, we had no such intention. However, things changed right after we were done setting up our new iPhones on November 3rd. We were sitting down in our bedroom and were just done setting up the Face IDs, our 10-year-old son walked in anxious to get his hands on the new iPhone X. Right away my wife declared that he was not going to access her phone. Acting exactly as a kid would do when asked to not do something, he picked up her phone and with just a glance got right in.

The younger Malik was then consistently able to unlock his mother's iPhone X, according to his parents. He was even able to unlock his father's iPhone X, but only on one attempt, which he has since been unable to replicate.

iphone x face id
WIRED reporter Andy Greenberg suggested that Sherwani re-register her face to see what would happen. Upon doing so, the iPhone X no longer allowed Ammar access. Interestingly, after Sherwani tried registering her face again a few hours later in the same indoor, nighttime lighting conditions in which she first set up her iPhone X, the son was able to regain access with his face.

The parents clarified that no one ever entered the iPhone X's passcode after any of the failed unlocking attempts. That's important, since when Face ID fails to recognize you beyond a certain threshold, and you immediately enter a passcode, the TrueDepth camera takes another capture to improve its reliability.

Apple explains in its Face ID security paper:

Conversely, if Face ID fails to recognize you, but the match quality is higher than a certain threshold and you immediately follow the failure by entering your passcode, Face ID takes another capture and augments its enrolled Face ID data with the newly calculated mathematical representation. This new Face ID data is discarded after a finite number of unlocks and if you stop matching against it. These augmentation processes allow Face ID to keep up with dramatic changes in your facial hair or makeup use, while minimizing false acceptance.

Given no passcode was ever entered, we can assume that Face ID never learned and adjusted for the son's face.

The same Face ID security paper states that the probability of a false match is higher among children under the age of 13, because their distinct facial features may not have fully developed. Given the child is only 10 years old, and Apple's information, what's shown in the video isn't a surprising flaw.

Nevertheless, the video is further evidence that Face ID isn't 100 percent foolproof given just the right circumstances. If you are concerned about this, Apple merely recommends using only a passcode to authenticate.

In related news, Vietnamese security firm Bkav recently shared a video in which it was able to spoof Face ID with a mask. The video is generating headlines since Apple said Face ID uses sophisticated anti-spoofing neural networks to minimize its chances of being spoofed, including with a mask.


The mask was supposedly crafted by combining 3D printing with makeup and 2D images, with some special processing done on the cheeks and around the face. Bkav said the supplies to make it cost roughly $150.

We're skeptical about the video given the lack of accompanying details. For instance, Bkav hasn't specified whether it disabled Face ID's default "Require Attention" feature, which provides an additional layer of security by verifying that you are looking at the iPhone before authentication is granted.

Even if the video is legitimate, it's hardly something that the average person should be concerned about. The chances of someone creating such a sophisticated mask of your facial features would seem extremely slim.

Apple so far has not responded to the videos, beyond pointing reporters to its existing Face ID security paper we linked to above.

Related Forum: iPhone

Top Rated Comments

OldSchoolMacGuy Avatar
64 months ago
If you fear for your security, FaceID AND TouchID are poor choices. Go with a very long, secure password. Quit crying.
Score: 94 Votes (Like | Disagree)
miniyou64 Avatar
64 months ago
Regardless if true or not, in practical real world usuage, Face ID is not more secure than Touch ID. Facts.
Score: 86 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ThomasJL Avatar
64 months ago
Fail ID
Score: 64 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mi7chy Avatar
64 months ago
Apple and apologists could positive spin it as a 'family emergency access' feature. ;)
Score: 57 Votes (Like | Disagree)
840quadra Avatar
64 months ago
Do we know how the phone was trained, and how much time it was used before it given to her son? If the password was ever entered just before the device saw his face for the first time?

Like the mask, it lacks full context.
Score: 56 Votes (Like | Disagree)
NCKLS Avatar
64 months ago
Regardless if true or not, in practical real world usuage, Face ID is not more secure than Touch ID. Facts.
Facts? How bout some sources?
Of course people can trick Face ID into failing by training it to work on similar faces of two separate people. How is that real world practical usage?
Score: 41 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

ipad pro m1 feature

Gurman: Apple Event This October Remains Unlikely, No Touch ID for iPhone 15

Sunday October 2, 2022 6:41 am PDT by
Apple is developing new iPad Pro, Mac, and Apple TV models, and at least some of these products will be released in October, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. However, Gurman continues to believe that Apple is unlikely to hold an event this month. In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Gurman said "the big iPhone 14 unveiling last month was probably it for Apple in 2022 in...
maxresdefault

Apple Responds to Video Testing Crash Detection Feature With Junkyard Vehicles

Friday September 30, 2022 9:11 am PDT by
The Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern recently traveled to Michigan to test Apple's new crash detection feature on the iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Ultra. In response, Apple provided some additional information about how the feature works. Stern recruited Michael Barabe to crash his demolition derby car with a heavy-duty steel frame into two unoccupied vehicles parked in a junkyard — a 2003...
Hero0005

Best Apple Deals of the Week: M2 MacBook Air Hits New All-Time Low Price at $1,049, Plus Sales on AirPods Pro and More

Friday September 30, 2022 9:05 am PDT by
This week's best Apple deals focus on the AirPods Pro, AirPods Pro 2, and M2 MacBook Air, including numerous all-time low prices on these devices. You'll also find up to 50 percent off discounts on Anker and Eufy accessories on Amazon. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us...
Apple SIM Card

Apple SIM No Longer Available for Activating New Cellular Data Plans on iPads

Sunday October 2, 2022 8:04 am PDT by
As of October 1, Apple SIM is no longer available for activating new cellular data plans on supported iPad models, according to an Apple support document. Introduced in 2014, the Apple SIM was designed to allow iPad users to activate cellular data plans from multiple carriers around the world. Initially, the Apple SIM was a physical nano-SIM card, but it was embedded inside later iPad Pro...
iphone 14 pro max vs 13 max 2

Camera Comparison: iPhone 14 Pro Max vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max

Thursday September 29, 2022 7:44 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max introduce some major improvements in camera technology, adding a 48-megapixel lens and low-light improvements across all lenses with the new Photonic Engine. We've spent the last week working on an in-depth comparison that pits the new iPhone 14 Pro Max against the prior-generation iPhone 13 Pro Max to see just how much better the iPhone 14 Pro Max can be. Subscrib ...
iOS 16 Wallpaper Spectrum Feature

Five Wallpaper Apps to Check Out for iOS 16's New Lock Screen Depth Effect

Thursday September 29, 2022 9:08 am PDT by
One of the biggest new features in iOS 16 is a completely redesigned iPhone Lock Screen. The new Lock Screen is entirely customizable, letting you change the colors and fonts, add widgets and new wallpapers, and more to make your iPhone uniquely yours. Of course, even before iOS 16, you could customize your Lock Screen with a wallpaper of your choice. iOS 16 takes the Lock Screen wallpaper...
top stories 1oct2022

Top Stories: Stage Manager Expands to Older iPad Pro Models, No October Apple Event?

Saturday October 1, 2022 6:00 am PDT by
While we had been expecting a follow-up October Apple event focused on Mac and iPad announcements, it sounds like we might not be getting another event after all. Instead, the pending updates in those product segments could be considered minor enough that they may be announced via press releases. It wasn't all bad news, however, with Apple announcing that it will be expanding an on-device...
iOS 16

Apple Preparing iOS 16.0.3 With More Bug Fixes Following iPhone 14 Launch

Monday October 3, 2022 7:53 am PDT by
iOS 16.0.2 was released last month with several bug fixes for iPhone 14 issues, excessive copy and paste permission prompts, and more. Now, evidence suggests that Apple is planning to release iOS 16.0.3 with additional bug fixes. Evidence of an upcoming iOS 16.0.3 software update has shown up in MacRumors analytics logs, which have been a reliable indicator in the past. There are several...
dynamic island alan dye

Apple Executives Talk About iPhone 14 Pro's Dynamic Island in New Interview

Sunday October 2, 2022 10:48 am PDT by
In a new interview, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, and Apple's vice president of human interface design, Alan Dye, sat down to discuss the thinking behind the iPhone 14 Pro's Dynamic Island and how it was developed. During the interview with the Japanese magazine Axis, Federighi, who oversees the development of iOS, said Dynamic Island represents the...