A group of German hackers known as the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) have successfully cracked Touch ID, the fingerprint sensor used to secure Apple’s new iPhone 5s. The hack was announced just two days after the smartphone went on sale.
In a post on their blog, the Chaos Computer Club provided details (including a video above) of their method. “A fingerprint of the phone user, photographed from a glass surface, was enough to create a fake finger that could unlock an iPhone 5s secured with Touch ID.”
The news will be worrying to businesses that may have hoped to secure company phones using Apple’s new technology, but will be of little surprise to the online security community, who have been sceptical about Touch ID since its introduction.
“In reality, Apple’s sensor has just a higher resolution compared to the sensors so far. So we only needed to ramp up the resolution of our fake,” said a Computer Club hacker known as Starbug. “As we have said now for more than years, fingerprints should not be used to secure anything. You leave them everywhere, and it is far too easy to make fake fingers out of lifted prints.”
The technique used by the CCC have been known for years and can fool nearly all fingerprint sensors, but the group did not access the copy of the print stored by the iPhone itself.
Apple’s own website describes individuals’ fingerprints as “one of the best passcodes in the world. It’s always with you, and no two are exactly alike”, noting that the Touch ID system can be used to “approve purchases from the iTunes Store, the App Store and the iBooks Store”.
The method used to crack Touch ID has been detailed by the Chaos Computer Club on their website, with the process beginning by finding a fingerprint left on an object like a glass bottle. The fingerprints are made mostly comprised of fat residue and sweat and can be highlighted by sprinkling surfaces with coloured powders.
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