International Asia Faulty facial recognition system on his phone costs man his entire savings

Faulty facial recognition system on his phone costs man his entire savings

Reports inferred that the phone may have lacked the necessary iris-scanning technology, so the security feature was bypassed even though the man had his eyes closed

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Facial recognition and similar biometrics systems are regarded as the next big step towards better security. For an unfortunate man in China, however, a faulty security feature cost him his entire life savings.

The man identified only as Yuan noticed that all his money had vanished from his bank account. Upon reporting the incident to the police, investigations discovered that Yuan’s roommates were guilty of stealing his money.

The two roommates admitted to unlocking the man’s phone while he was asleep and transferring the money to their personal bank accounts using WeChat Pay. The thieves stole a total of C¥12,000 (S$2,440), the man’s entire life savings, as the South China Morning Post reported.

Reports refuse to identify the brand of the phone with the faulty facial recognition security feature, only saying that the phone costs about C¥1000 (S$202) in the market.

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The thieves were able to unlock the phone even though the man was asleep. Reports inferred that the phone may have lacked the necessary iris-scanning technology, so the security feature was bypassed even though the man had his eyes closed.

Fortunately, the bank returned the man’s stolen money after the investigation.

China is no stranger to facial recognition, since the government itself intends on developing the most sophisticated technology to identify and track all its citizens. WeChat Pay also applies facial recognition for retail, travel and mobile payment transactions.

Schools in China have been using facial recognition to identify students for class attendance, while some hotels have already begun adopting the technology for checking in their guests.

Tech experts are working towards replacing password security with facial and fingerprint recognition technologies. In 2016, it was reported that stolen passwords caused 81 percent of all data breaches.

But as the recent case shows, biometric security is still underdeveloped. Researchers discovered that a lab-generated artificial fingerprint can unlock 65 percent of tested phones while algorithms can be written to mimic voices for voice recognition security./TISG

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