UPDATE on 22/09/2013: James Jeffrey sent me the following article: http://www.ccc.de/en/updates/2013/ccc-breaks-apple-touchid – Already showing the lack of safety with this technology. Thanks James! I had quite a few Apple “fanboys” blasting my post as incorrect due to the way the fingerprint scanner had been “innovated”.
For those Apple fanboys out there, as well as pretty much everyone who doesn’t live in a cardboard box, a new iPhone device is on the market.
Yup, the new iPhone 5s boasts a 64-bit processor (a mobile first), improved graphics capability, a new gold colour and, one of the most discussed features, a redesigned home button with a built in fingerprint scanner.
On paper, fingerprint technology is magical – No more would we have to remember complicated passwords and pin codes. Instead, we just press a button and the phone automatically knows it’s the rightful owner. Sounds great, right?
It’s not often a member of the US Senate says something I agree with. I have a particularly cautious view of them since they banned online card playing many years ago… However, I was pleased to hear that Senator Al Franken has written to Apple due to the following concerns:
– Whether the fingerprint data stored locally on the mobile phone chip in encrypted form could ever be stolen and converted into digital or visual form that would be usable by hackers or fraudsters
– Whether the iPhone 5S transmits any diagnostic information about the Touch ID system back to Apple or any third parties
– How well customer fingerprint data will be protected and kept private
– The exact legal status of such fingerprint data
After studying bio-metric identification methods at University, it was generally understood that bio-metrics is a long way off becoming a reliable and safe technology. Even “Mythbusters” got in on the action proving that they can be beaten.
The problem doesn’t purely lie with how the phone deals with the data however. It has been proven time and time again that fingerprints can easily be lifted and replicated using simple methods such as sellotape and jelly babies!
If you ever thought you were safe using the iPhone 5s and their touch security system, I would be very very careful with how you protect your identity. With many people syncing mail applications with their phones,in a matter of minutes an attacker may be able to walk into a bank as you and withdraw every last penny!
This is the Apple we know and love folks. They deliver innovative, cool products, but unfortunately it’s all about the bottom line and sales, and less about the user and what they really want…!
My recommendation? If you do get this fantastic looking device, do not use the fingerprint technology for any identification purposes. Keep safe 🙂
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