The security and privacy risks of face recognition authentication

Face recognition authentication

Credits: Reuters/Stephen Lam

In its latest product event, with the launch of FaceID, Apple made it clear that it’s transitioning toward making face recognition the principal method to unlock phones, and it will be ditching fingerprint authentication in its favor. Other manufacturers are making similar moves, including Samsung and Qualcomm, the smartphone chipmaker.

There’s a clear benefit to using your face to identify yourself: It’s fast and convenient. All you need to do is show your face to your phone’s camera to unlock it. In the case of Apple’s new flagship phone, you don’t even need to press a button; it will automatically detect your face as soon as you’re within the selfie camera frame.

Face recognition spares you remembering yet another passcode, and it’s certainly easier to use than pressing your thumb against the fingerprint sensor. However, more convenient does not necessarily mean more secure and private. In fact, in most cases, there’s a tradeoff between ease of use and security. Continue reading