Is facial recognition safe? All about the iPhone X's Face ID

In the technology world, facial recognition is becoming increasingly popular. From Snapchat filters to the brand new Face ID technology featured on the iPhone X, it shows no signs of stopping.

But when you’re giving a company every single detail of your face, you might have some legitimate concerns. Where is this information stored? Who can access it? Could someone steal your face and identity if they got their hands on it?

The good news is, you’re probably going to be fine, and so will your face. Let’s take a look at facial recognition technology and figure out once and for all how safe it really is.

How does Face ID work? The iPhone X’s Face ID feature is a lot like the Touch ID system already present on many iPhone models (iPhone 6 and up) - except that it uses your face instead of your fingerprint.

Before you can start unlocking your phone just by looking at it, you’ll need to set up Face ID. Like with Touch ID, you’ll just need to move your face around while the phone scans it to calibrate the system. The phone uses different sensors and cameras to scan your face with infrared light and a dot projector, which, well, projects 30,000 dots onto your face to map your features, which it’ll store securely.

When you pick up your phone to unlock it, it’ll automatically scan your face again and compare the result against the data it has stored. Once it recognises it’s you, the phone will unlock - and it should only take a second.

Where is my data stored? Where does your face go after you set up Face ID? In your phone’s Secure Enclave, a security chip which makes the data on it nearly impossible to access (or steal) and is known to be the most secure part of your phone. But even if someone happened to get their hands on the data inside the Secure Enclave, your actual face won’t be part of it!

Instead, the iPhone X stores “hashed” data (encrypted data that even your processor is unable to read), which is only made up of the dots used to map your face and wouldn’t be enough to reconstruct your features if accessed.

Could someone unlock my phone while I’m asleep? Nope. Your eyes need to be open for Face ID to work. The phone won’t be tricked by a picture either, as it maps your face in 3D -so it’s highly unlikely that someone other than you will be able to unlock it.

Face ID is an incredibly smart and secure feature. Your phone, data, and personal information will be kept safe - unless you have an evil twin. Then you’re on your own.

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