FACIAL RECOGNITION MAKES sense as a method for your computer to recognize you. After all, humans already use a powerful version of it to tell each other apart. But people can be fooled (disguises! twins!), so it’s no surprise that even as computer vision evolves, new attacks will trick facial recognition systems, too. Now researchers have demonstrated a particularly disturbing new method of stealing a face: one that’s based on 3-D rendering and some light Internet stalking.
Earlier this month at the Usenix security conference, security and computer vision specialists from the University of North Carolina presented a system that uses digital 3-D facial models based on publicly available photos and displayed with mobile virtual reality technology to defeat facial recognition systems. A VR-style face, rendered in three dimensions, gives the motion and depth cues that a security system is generally checking for. The researchers used a VR system shown on a smartphone’s screen for its accessibility and portability.