Oh, the hubris of Apple.

FaceID deserves a really hard look.

Despite the demo failure of FaceID at the recent Apple event at the new Steve Jobs Theater at the new Apple Campus, there looms a larger issue with this latest innovation to secure access to phones, apps, information and identities. FaceID is the most recent entry into what we term “involuntary biometrics,” or authentication without intent. In short, much like fingerprint readers, facial scanning is passive biometrics and can be engaged by third parties while the identity owner is unwilling, incapacitated or even unawares. There is no barrier between authentication and permission with these involuntary biometrics as they represent a dangerous trend towards a loss of individual control over one’s privacy, authenticity and will.

Recently we worked on a project with an unnamed government entity who were looking into sensing the difference between when someone meant to login, and when they didn’t, using the exact same credentials, biometrics and context. For example, Apple cannot currently tell you that the two fingerprints you registered with TouchID on one hand are in any way related to the fingers you register from another hand. They don’t know if those fingers and fingerprints belong to the same body, sex, or even same location. Just like with FaceID, your fingerprints can be used to unlock your phone when you are asleep, unconscious or forced by duress. Your mental barrier is unable to block access like it can with a simple passcode or intended gesture.

FaceID makes things worse. Now, in addition to compromising your security when you are asleep, unconscious, unawares or under restraint, FaceID can read your access from a distance in a number of settings, providing access to unauthorized or unintended parties. Your lack of will, intent or intangible revocation renders you helpless to revoke such involuntary biometrics whenever you are not actively involved in their assertion.

LiveEnsure® technology is based on years of R&D in the science of contextual authentication, whereby factors are meaningless unless they are in the proper context. The majority of successful hacks occur when the right credentials are used in the wrong context. Passive or involuntary biometrics open a wide door to this kind of attack, regardless of how their factors are encrypted or stored securely on a device. Account takeover is just one concern. The recent media hacks and law enforcement legal cases point to simple chain-of-custody issues whereby one factor breach can be used to unlock others at a later time.

LiveEnsure® contextualizes factors and allows the user/owner to apply their intent to any authentication event or scenario. Protecting the user’s privacy and ability to revoke themselves outside of immutable factors like iris scans, fingerprints or facial recognition is critical to maintaining independence of identity. You only have one iris, fingerprint (set) or facial structure. If that is now the “password,” then there is no way to reset or revoke it if compromised. The future of identity theft and digital hacking will not be based on proving you are who you say you are, but the converse of proving it was NOT you in a digital sense. Without that ability, the average consumer/user will be helpless in the face or more skilled, scalable or anonymized forces who can breach, duplicate and fabricate identity and authenticity. Contextual revocation based on the intent or will of the user, outside of passive or involuntary factors, is the only antidote to such attacks.

Apple has continued to open pandora’s box without considering the long-term impacts of reducing human authenticity to mere physical factors they cannot control, revoke or modify. Machines can be rebooted, reformatted. Humans cannot. www.liveensure.com