Apple's iPhone5 fingerprint detector was thought to be infallible, until now. A hacker located in Germany managed to break through the system using only a high-quality print and a plastic sheet.
For its success, the hacker is expected to gain a bounty worth at least few thousand dollars, plus several bitcoins (a virtual currency which gained great momentum in the last period; 1 BTC = 122 USD to date). The contest was started by two U.K. researchers, which created the site IsTouchIDHackedYet.com. Several sponsors entered into the race thereafter, and the bounty ultimately managed to reach the value of $20,000. However, it's uncertain whether the hacker will gain this entire sum or just part of it, especially considering that the awards are at sole discretion of the sponsors. Arturas Rosenbacher, one of the founding partners based in Chicago announced that it has withdrawn its $10k sponsorship due to the fact that the solution is not software or hardware-based.
The German hacker, who titles himself Starbug, has posted a detailed description on how he surpassed Apple's protection system plus a video proving that what he said was true. Several people from around the world tested its solution and confirmed it was working. Not much has been revealed about Starbug to date, except that he is a member of CCC (Computer Chaos Group), a Berlin based collective. Here's how he managed to break though Apple's fingerprint sensor:
- Took a photo of the iPhone owner's finger at 2400 dpi resolution. It was sprinkled with colored powder for extra effect.
- Cleaned the image and inverted it, then printed the final photo at 1200 dpi resolution via a laser printer.
- Used a substance known as white wood glue to fill the blank spaces from the sheet
- Once the substance dried out, he cleaned the fake finger and peeled it off from the plastic sheet
- Moistened the print slightly with his breath and then used it to unlock the device
This is the simple tutorial which made Starbug eligible for a prize as big as $20,000. Whether he will actually receive it or not, that is yet to be seen, but fact is the solution he provided is more than genuine. Apple will now have a hard time patching this issue.
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