Apple Explains iPhone X Face ID Security

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When the iPhone X rolled out with Face ID in place of Apple’s Touch ID, many users were naturally concerned with its security and privacy.

To clear things up, the Cupertino brand has just released a technical white paper that explains the ins and outs of the facial recognition technology.

That said, here are some notable points culled from the six-page document (PDF):

Face ID Data Isn’t Stored Anywhere Else But The iPhone X

Face ID data is stored only in the Secure Enclave of the iPhone X. By “only,” we mean that it’s not available elsewhere, including from the company itself, the cloud, a server somewhere, and backups.

“Face ID data, including mathematical representations of your face, is encrypted and only available to the Secure Enclave,” Apple says, noting that it “never leaves the device.”

This is in line with what software engineering senior VP Craig Federighi told TechCrunch in a recent interview.

Hackers Will Need Your Phone To Steal Your Face ID Data

Since Face ID data is saved only in the iPhone X, hackers can’t steal users’ info unless they physically have the iPhones themselves, and even then, it would be a tricky task because the data is encrypted.

In a word, it won’t be a walk in the park for anyone to get ahold of someone else’s Face ID data.

Face ID Doesn’t Exactly Store What You Look Like

Face ID won’t capture the user’s face. Instead, it stores a “mathematical representation.”

It also doesn’t keep background information of these images, as the enrollment images are cropped to the user’s face.

Third Parties Can Use Face ID

It’s confirmed that third-party apps can use Face ID, but that doesn’t mean they have access to the data, nor will they receive it.

In other words, Face ID and third parties are limited to authentication only. Think along the lines of authenticating a purchase on the App Store with Face ID.

Face ID Won’t Take Over Passwords

For Face ID to work, users still need a password, and that means the facial recognition technology won’t be replacing passcodes anytime soon.

On an interesting note, Apple notes that Face ID could be a good incentive to use unique passwords, saying that it makes “longer, more complex passcode far more practical” because it doesn’t have to be typed out that often.

“Face ID doesn’t replace your passcode, but provides easy access to iPhone X within thoughtful boundaries and time constraints,” Apple writes. Put differently; it’s a convenient way to unlock the phone, which is similar to the Samsung Galaxy Note 8’s feature.

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