Apple iPhone 5 Fingerprint Scanner: The Yikes Moments


The recent buzz about the iPhone 5 is its fingerprint ID system that stores the user’s fingerprint which is used it as a bio-metric authentication for accessing the phone and various services like the iTunes and App store. It’s more focused on the customer comfort to ease of their access by neglecting the usual PIN authentication. While it is a significant feature necessary for the users, it tends to provoke various privacy concerns.

Why fingerprints are so sensitive?

Fingerprints are the permanent ID for any individual as it can never be altered or changed. Such a physical bio-metric ID, if exploited, can bring in a colossal effect on the user and would put him in a chaotic dilemma, which he couldn’t have imagined. Most of the bio-metric authentication systems use fingerprints more than the retinal scan and other such physical IDs. Using such sensitive bio-metric ID as an authentication method for a device that is so vulnerable, is still a debatable concept. Though, the issue seems to be of less significance for an average user, the security measures of the iPhone 5 to encrypt the ID needs to be double checked before we use it. In case if it’s the PIN or Password that’s been exploited, one can change their passwords for other services and devices, and thereby preventing the hacker from accessing more data. But in case of Fingerprint ID, once it’s exploited… All hell breaks loose…

Why the fingerprint is ID vulnerable?

iPhone 5 is said to have a good encryption protocol for the biometric IDs of the user. But, the problem is, the scanned fingerprints are stored in the device itself, which draws us the attention for the privacy concern. A central management system is not established in this case, and so the offline storage of the authentication data is more vulnerable and easy for hackers to exploit not only the user’s device and services, but also their other data including their medical records and their entire history.

iPhone 5 is not the first one to make this buzz anyway. In the recent years there were a few companies that came up with this idea too. Motorola’s smartphones and other leading laptops with fingerprint reader showed negative results and thus it’s been considered as a major flaw and is not ready for such integration as in iPhone.

Majority of the smartphone users nowadays, have no idea how their apps work and what information they are sharing to some unknown third party. Indeed, no one ever takes their time to read the entire policy of any apps. Your private life might be jeopardized if any of this application exposes your biometric IDs to anyone out there.

How to stay protected?

The simplest and easiest answer! Never install apps from suspicious vendors or seek professional advice before installing any such unverified applications. In case of data protection out of the device, be sure you use a two way authentication besides your biometrics.

This post was first published on September 28, 2013.

Karthikeyan KC

Aeronautical Engineer, Science Fiction Author, Gamer, and an Explorer. I am the creator of Geekswipe. I love writing about Physics and Astronomy. I am now creating Swyde.


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