iPhone owners beware! One of the smartphone's security features might not be so great after all. The Apple Touch ID fingerprint sensor -available on iPhone 5s, 6 and 6 Plus - is supposed to keep thieves out, but it turns out criminals might just need photos to break into your phone.
Chaos Computer Club (CCC), a hacker association in Germany, didn't even need to gather an actual fingerprint to fool the technology. Instead, it used several high-quality photos of Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen to create usable fingerprints.
The process takes quite a bit of work and requires multiple high-resolution photos. But, it could still pose a serious security risk for politicians and government officials who are constantly in front of cameras.
CCC member Starbug used several high-quality photos of von der Leyen's thumb taken during a press conference. He then put those photos into a publicly-available program called VeriFinger to create a usable thumb print image.
This software is good enough, according to CCC, to fool fingerprint security systems.
The hackers can then print out the page on a printer that uses toner and pour latex or wood glue on the image. The toner creates slight ridges around the image, so when the liquid dries the hackers can peel off their new print and press it against the iPhone's scanner to unlock it. This is scary because cybercriminals won't even need to track down a print to recreate it anymore. They can simply use high-quality photos that include visible fingerprints.
Starbug said: "After this talk, politicians will presumably wear gloves when talking in public."
When it comes to smartphone security, it looks like Apple and the other manufacturers might have to go back to the drawing board. Fingerprint scanners don't appear to be as secure as we once thought.