Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Fingerprint Scans Could Be Future of Mobile Phone Security

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Fingerprint Scans Could Be Future of Mobile Phone Security

Article excerpt

Smartphones let us bring our photos, email and social media everywhere we go. Many of us use smartphones for mobile banking, shopping and storing important, private information. Despite that wealth of stored data, Apple reports that half of all iPhone users ignore the passcode lock feature. Many users say it's just too cumbersome to tap in a passcode every time they need their phones.

But that leaves information vulnerable if their phones are lost or stolen.

So Apple's iPhone 5S includes fingerprint-scanning technology called Touch ID to unlock the phone and make iTunes purchases. Some are calling it a key development: a more secure way to authenticate mobile transactions and protect your data. Others are concerned about privacy, worried that users' fingerprints will be kept on record at Apple or made available to third-party software developers.

The biggest benefit of using a fingerprint scan to unlock your phone is its simplicity. While critics insist that even fingerprint security is vulnerable to hacking, it's certainly more of a theft deterrent than having no lock on your phone at all.

Could a thief lift your fingerprint from elsewhere on the phone and use it to unlock the device? Touch ID uses a sensor in the steel ring around the home button to ensure that only materials of certain conductivity will register. The sensor uses data from your finger's sub-epidermal layer, not just the surface, making it much more difficult to replicate.

Could someone hack your phone and get access to your fingerprint data? Instead of just using a photo of your fingerprint, Touch ID "creates a mathematical representation of your fingerprint and compares this to your enrolled fingerprint data to identify a match and unlock your iPhone," Apple's website says.

Touch ID doesn't store any fingerprint photos, nor could your fingerprint be reverse-engineered from this mathematical equation.

Could a hacker get access to my fingerprint data on Apple's servers? …

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