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High Quality Photos May Affect Facial Recognition On Some Phones

By January 17, 2019April 6th, 2023Technology News

One of the exciting new features offered by the latest smartphones is facial recognition, which allows users to unlock their devices simply by looking at them.  On paper, it’s a great feature and incredibly convenient, but there’s a problem. The issue was uncovered by a non-profit group called the Dutch Consumentenbond, which tested more than a hundred smartphones offered by a broad spectrum of vendors.

Their findings were disturbing to say the least.

It seems that advances in technology have rendered the new facial recognition routines easily hacked.  The group found that nearly 40 percent of the phones they tested could be unlocked by a hacker displaying a high-resolution photograph in front of the camera.

These photos are such high quality that they can fool the software designed to protect the user. This allows any hacker who has access to a high-resolution photo of the phone’s owner complete and unfettered access to anything on the device.  After all, as far as the phone is concerned, you’re the one unlocking it!

Unfortunately, given the fact that most people these days are engaged on at least one social media platform, high-res photographs are incredibly easy to come by.  Even if you’re not personally engaged in social media on any platform, given the ubiquity of high-quality cameras on the smart devices available for sale today, it’s incredibly easy to snap a picture of the owner of the phone either before or after the hacker has made off with it.

The issue here is twofold:  First, a growing percentage of people do their banking and make a variety of purchases via their phones, meaning that all of the data associated with those accounts would be available to a hacker who stole the phone.  Second, companies selling phones with the facial recognition unlock feature are touting it as highly secure, when it very clearly isn’t, giving their user base a false sense of security.

Beware.  Facial recognition unlock is much easier to hack than manufacturers are letting on!

Jason Manteiga

Jason J. Manteiga, Vice President of Olmec Systems, has been part of the company for over the past 20 years. He believes that having a great work environment and supportive team, is the ultimate key to success. Since being in the IT realm for over 25 years, Jason, along with Olmec Systems, has been on the Inc. 5000 “List of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies” and Channel Futures MSP 501 “Top Managed Service Providers in North America,” along with other awards and nominations. Jason earned his Bachelor Degree in Information Systems from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He also holds certifications in Microsoft MCSE, VMWare VCP, and Cisco CCNA. In his spare time, Jason is a contributor for The Center for Social & Legal Research (Privacy Exchange) and a member of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce. His hobbies include cycling and kayaking. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife, two daughters and son.