German hackers say old technique can bypass Apple's Touch ID

A high-quality scan of a person's finger and a bit of latex -- an old technique -- can defeat Touch ID, the Chaos Computer Club claims

Apple's Touch ID authentication system can be defeated using a well-honed technique for creating a latex copy of someone's fingerprint, according to a German hacking group.

Apple's Touch ID authentication system can be defeated using a well-honed technique for creating a latex copy of someone's fingerprint, according to a German hacking group.

Apple's Touch ID authentication system can be defeated using a well-honed technique for creating a latex copy of someone's fingerprint, according to a German hacking group.

The Chaos Computer Club (CCC), which hosts an annual hacking conference and publishes computer security research, wrote on its blog that their experiment shows that fingerprint authentication "should be avoided."

Apple introduced Touch ID with its latest high-end iPhone 5S on Sept. 10. A person's "fingerprint is one of the best passcodes in the world. It's always with you, and no two are exactly alike," according to the company's website.

A hacker who goes by the name Starbug found that while Touch ID scans at a higher resolution, it can be beaten by increasing the resolution of the victim's fingerprint.

The CCC posted a video of what it wrote is a successful attack. Faking the print involves photographing the victim's fingerprint at 2400 DPI. The image is inverted and laser printed at 1200 DPI onto a transparent sheet using a "thick toner setting," according to the CCC.

Pink latex milk or white wood glue is smeared into the pattern created the toner. After it cures, a sliver of latex is lifted from the sheet, and blowing on it gives a bit of moisture like that on a human finger. It then can be placed on the iPhone's fingerprint sensor, the CCC wrote.

The technique is not new. "This process has been used with minor refinements and variations against the vast majority of fingerprint sensors on the market," the CCC wrote. Apple officials did not have an immediate comment on the CCC's findings.

Security experts have long warned that fingerprint authentication should not be solely relied upon, but rather used in concert with other technologies. Photos of fingerprints and molds have successfully bypassed fingerprint checks.

Touch ID is intended to reduce the number of times a person must enter a passcode, but Apple still requires a passcode in some circumstances, such as restarting the phone and if the devices hasn't been unlocked in two days.

Changes to the fingerprint settings also require a passcode, which can be configured to be longer and more complex than four digits.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Chaos Computer ClubtelecommunicationapplicationsiossecurityMobile OSesmobile

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?