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
82 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
82 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
82 months ago
Fail ID
Score: 64 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mi7chy Avatar
82 months ago
Apple and apologists could positive spin it as a 'family emergency access' feature. ;)
Score: 57 Votes (Like | Disagree)
840quadra Avatar
82 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
82 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

Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID Single Camera Hole

Six Reasons to Wait for Next Year's iPhone 17

Thursday February 22, 2024 4:20 am PST by
Apple's iPhone development roadmap runs several years into the future and the company is continually working with suppliers on several successive iPhone models concurrently, which is why we sometimes get rumored feature leaks so far ahead of launch. The iPhone 17 series is no different, and already we have some idea of what to expect from Apple's 2025 smartphone lineup. If you plan to skip...
iPhone Notch

Apple Explored These Notch and Dynamic Island Designs for iPhones

Friday February 23, 2024 2:05 pm PST by
With the iPhone 14 Pro models in 2022, Apple introduced the Dynamic Island, which can morph and expand to display system alerts, sports scores, and a variety of other information. The feature makes the space surrounding the front camera and Face ID sensors useful compared to the notch on older iPhone models. Apple explored a variety of ideas for the iPhone's notch area over the years before...
General Apps Messages

Apple Announces 'Groundbreaking' New Security Protocol for iMessage

Wednesday February 21, 2024 6:00 am PST by
Apple today announced a new post-quantum cryptographic protocol for iMessage called PQ3. Apple says this "groundbreaking" and "state-of-the-art" protocol provides "extensive defenses against even highly sophisticated quantum attacks." Apple believes the PQ3 protocol's protections "surpass those in all other widely deployed messaging apps," according to its blog post:Today we are announcing...
Next Generation CarPlay Porsche 1

Apple Launching Next-Generation CarPlay This Year With These New Features

Wednesday February 21, 2024 2:03 pm PST by
Apple recently updated its website to confirm that the first vehicle models with next-generation CarPlay support will debut "in 2024." This wording is shown on Apple's regional websites for the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and many other countries. The iOS 17.4 beta includes code-level references to eight new CarPlay apps:Auto Settings: This app will let you manage paired iPhones...
cracked glass vision pro

Handful of Apple Vision Pro Units Develop Identical Crack in Cover Glass

Friday February 23, 2024 4:46 am PST by
A small number of Apple Vision Pro owners have claimed that their headsets developed a hairline crack down the middle of the front cover glass, despite having never been dropped or mishandled. Photo of hairline crack in Vision Pro front glass (credit: Reddit user Inphenite) The first report was posted in the subreddit /r/VisionPro about 18 days ago, and several more have appeared in the last...
iOS 17

iOS 17.4 Will Add These New Features to Your iPhone

Monday February 19, 2024 6:52 am PST by
Apple last month confirmed that iOS 17.4 will be released in March, and the update includes several new features and changes for the iPhone. Key new features in iOS 17.4 include major App Store changes in the EU and Apple Podcasts transcripts. The update also adds new emoji and includes preparations for the launch of next-generation CarPlay later this year. More details about the new...
Oled iPads and MackBook Pro Notch

Apple's OLED Roadmap: New iPad Mini, Foldable iPad Pro, and More

Wednesday February 21, 2024 5:29 am PST by
Apple is planning to launch at least nine new devices with OLED displays across the iPad and MacBook product lines, according to an updated forecast from research firm Omdia that sets out the company's plans in detail. As widely rumored, Apple's push to transition to OLED will apparently be jump-started by the release of new 11- and 13-inch iPad Pro models this year. The displays will...
New Macs iPads iOS 17 4

What to Expect at Potential Apple Event in March: iPads, Macs, and More

Friday February 23, 2024 8:35 am PST by
Apple often holds its first media event of the year in March, so the company could be just weeks away from announcing new products. Below, we have outlined what to expect from a potential Apple Event this March. Past Apple Events in March Apple has held five events in March since 2015:Monday, March 9, 2015 Monday, March 21, 2016 Tuesday, March 27, 2018 Monday, March 25, 2019 Tuesday,...