Mobile forensics company Elcomsoft has recommended the U.S. law enforcement agencies to not look at iPhones with Face ID “or else the same thing will occur as happened on Apple’s event.”
Face ID and Touch ID both offer a user five attempts at unlocking their device. After the fifth failed attempt, iPhones will end up asking for the passcode for enhanced security. Elcomsoft is recommending law enforcement agencies to avoid looking at an iPhone with Face ID so as to trigger it.
“This is quite simple. Passcode is required after five unsuccessful attempts to match a face,” Vladimir Katalov, CEO of Elcomsoft, told Motherboard in an online chat, pointing to Apple’s own documentation on Face ID. “So by looking into suspect’s phone, [the] investigator immediately lose one of [the] attempts.”
Back when Apple unveiled the iPhone X in 2017, the first public Face ID demo failed because of too many failed attempts.
The first instance of the FBI forcing an accused to unlock their iPhone X using Face ID was reported earlier this year.
The U.S. law enforcement agency cannot legally force an accused to hand over their phone’s pass code as it is protected under the Fifth Amendment. This means law enforcement agencies can only force an accused to unlock their iPhone via biometric authentication. This makes every biometric attempt to unlock the device important.
Face ID is significantly easier to trigger than Touch ID since it is automatically triggered when one looks at their device.
With Apple stepping up the security on its iPhones with every new iOS release, every chance to unlock an iOS device by bypassing the Fifth Amendment Act is extremely important.