iPhone Fingerprint Sensor Hacked — Already (and Tor, spiders, GPU keyloggers, NSA/India)

The German CCC has traditionally been very good at hacking biometrics — their “gummi bear” and “condom” attacks on fingerprint sensors were among the first such discoveries to appear in public.

Now it seems they’re keeping up that tradition… having hacked the iPhone fingerprint sensor within a day or so the thing was launched.

Nope, nothing super special to see here with regards to technology. Apple didn’t do any multiple-wavelength live checks, they just got a high enough resolution sensor that you have to image the source fingerprint at >2400dpi and print at >1200dpi. In other words, nothing a modern DSLR with quality macro lens or a decent quality laser printer will have trouble with.

The final step is lifting the print design from tonor-on-transparency using a bit of wood glue or “latex milk.”

I would add you can probably do even better, and put a bit of liquid “second skin” on the finger and then roll it over the tonor-on-transparency “fingerprint mould”. The result will be a “fake fingerprint” that’s nearly invisible to the naked eye and more likely to pass even if someone else is watching you use the phone.

Tor is blocking the US government from releasing data about Tor’s relationship with the government: http://cryptome.org/2013/09/epic-v-bbg.pdf

Spiders flying with electrostatics:
https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/98345796bba4

GPU keyloggers:
http://cryptome.org/2013/09/gpu-keylogger.pdf

NSA spied on India: “top Indian officials have been rather dismissive of the disclosures, with Minister for External Affairs Salman Khurshid even defending the U.S. surveillance program by saying that “it is not… actually snooping…” http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-among-top-targets-of-spying-by-nsa/article5157526.ece?homepage=true

http://www.ccc.de/en/updates/2013/ccc-breaks-apple-touchid

“The biometrics hacking team of the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) has successfully bypassed the biometric security of Apple’s TouchID using easy everyday means. 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 TouchID. This demonstrates – again – that fingerprint biometrics is unsuitable as access control method and should be avoided.

Apple had released the new iPhone with a fingerprint sensor that was supposedly much more secure than previous fingerprint technology. A lot of bogus speculation about the marvels of the new technology and how hard to defeat it supposedly is had dominated the international technology press for days.

“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 the hacker with the nickname Starbug, who performed the critical experiments that led to the successful circumvention of the fingerprint locking. “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.” [1]

The iPhone TouchID defeat has been documented in a short video.

The method follows the steps outlined in this how-to with materials that can be found in almost every household: First, the fingerprint of the enroled user is photographed with 2400 dpi resolution. The resulting image is then cleaned up, inverted and laser printed with 1200 dpi onto transparent sheet with a thick toner setting. Finally, pink latex milk or white woodglue is smeared into the pattern created by the toner onto the transparent sheet. After it cures, the thin latex sheet is lifted from the sheet, breathed on to make it a tiny bit moist and then placed onto the sensor to unlock the phone. This process has been used with minor refinements and variations against the vast majority of fingerprint sensors on the market.

“We hope that this finally puts to rest the illusions people have about fingerprint biometrics. It is plain stupid to use something that you can´t change and that you leave everywhere every day as a security token”, said Frank Rieger, spokesperson of the CCC. “The public should no longer be fooled by the biometrics industry with false security claims. Biometrics is fundamentally a technology designed for oppression and control, not for securing everyday device access.” Fingerprint biometrics in passports has been introduced in many countries despite the fact that by this global roll-out no security gain can be shown.

iPhone users should avoid protecting sensitive data with their precious biometric fingerprint not only because it can be easily faked, as demonstrated by the CCC team. Also, you can easily be forced to unlock your phone against your will when being arrested. Forcing you to give up your (hopefully long) passcode is much harder under most jurisdictions than just casually swiping your phone over your handcuffed hands.”

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