The recently released — and fairly well-regarded — OnePlus 6 phone, like many newer smartphones, has a face unlock feature for user access. But users have already shown it doesn’t take much to fool OnePlus 6 into unlocking.
A recent post by Twitter user @rikvduijn shows the phone being unlocked with the printout of a color photo of the user’s face. Another post from the same user claims the unlocking feature was accessed by a black-and-white photo, as well.
I printed my face to unlock my OnePlus 6 for the lulz… it worked ¯_(ツ)_/¯ pic.twitter.com/rAVMq8JKBr
— rik (@rikvduijn) May 29, 2018
OnePlus made a statement to PhoneArena about using a printed photo to unlock the OnePlus 6, and the company certainly didn’t deny that it’s possible:
“We designed Face Unlock around convenience, and while we took corresponding measures to optimise its security we always recommended you use a password/PIN/fingerprint for security. For this reason Face Unlock is not enabled for any secure apps such as banking or payments. We’re constantly working to improve all of our technology, including Face Unlock.”
Basically, OnePlus is touting its face unlocking feature as a feature of convenience, not security. Android Authority claims the phone uses a disclaimer that informs users the face unlocking method “is not completely secure.” According to Android Authority, the problem “is more of an Android-wide issue,” as other Android phones could also be fooled by photographs.
Convenience And Security
We understand the difference between features of convenience and security, but ideally, any unlocking method should be as secure as possible. Convenience and security can co-exist.
For example, Apple’s iPhone X also has a face unlocking feature, Face ID. And unlike OnePlus, Apple boasts that Face ID is a “secure and private” way to “unlock, authenticate, and pay.”
It doesn’t appear that iPhone X can be unlocked by using a photo — at least there’s no noticeable record of this occurring — but at one point, the phone was unlocked using a 3D printed mask. The difference between using a photo that anyone can print out and managing to produce a lifelike 3D printed mask, however, should be obvious.