Security & Fraud

AI Firm Breaches Facial Recognition At Airports, Stores

AI Firm Breaches Facial Recognition In Test

Photos of faces and 3D masks have fooled facial recognition checkpoints at airports, as well as payment systems, but they can’t fool Apple’s Face ID systems, according to reports.

Kneron, an artificial intelligence (AI) company, did an experiment at different stores and airports that used facial recognition technology to see if it could fool the systems. In Asia, for example, the company used high-caliber 3D masks in an attempt to deceive payment systems like Alipay and WeChat. The testing team also was able to secure transportation hubs using a photo of a face on a phone screen.

"This shows the threat to the privacy of users with sub-par facial recognition that is masquerading as AI," Kneron's CEO Albert Liu told Fortune. "The technology is available to fix these issues, but firms have not upgraded it. They are taking shortcuts at the expense of security."

The attempts to crack the system were successful. At a terminal in Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands, the technology was tricked using only a photo on a phone screen. Rail stations in China were also breached in a similar way. The idea that a simple photograph on a phone can trick sensors at an airport is most troubling, noted the report.

One peripheral that wasn’t easily hacked was the iPhone. Neither a mask nor a photograph could fool even the oldest iPhone with the technology, the iPhone X, during the test. There has been one case when the system was tricked, but Apple has attempted to patent a counterattack that would require some facial muscle movement for verification.

Kneron is backed by Qualcomm and Sequoia Capital, and is currently working on what it refers to as “edge AI,” which recognizes people on devices rather than the cloud.

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