Newsletters
News & Information for Technology Purchasers NewsFactor Sites:       NewsFactor.com     Enterprise Security Today     CRM Daily     Business Report     Sci-Tech Today  
   
This ad will display for the next 20 seconds. Click for more information, or
Home Enterprise I.T. Cloud Computing Applications Hardware More Topics...
Eliminate costly downtime!
Find out how with Free White Paper
& enter to win a Samsung Galaxy Note

www.apc.com
Apple/Mac
24/7/365 Network Uptime!
Average Rating:
Rate this article:  
How Safe Is Apple
How Safe Is Apple's Touch ID, Really?

By Jennifer LeClaire
September 12, 2013 10:17AM

    Bookmark and Share
Apple has probably erred on the side of usability before considering security when it comes to biometrics. Still, Touch ID has to be more secure than a four-digit password, which could easily be cracked in older iPhones. But, then again, how safe is your fingerprint? asked security analyst Paul Henry.
 



Now that the reviewers are done talking about what was missing from the iPhone 5s, some are taking a closer look at what the smartphone has that none of its competitors can claim: full-blown biometrics.

iPhone 5s introduces Touch ID, a James Bond-like way to securely unlock the device with your finger -- or, more accurately, fingerprint. Touch ID is built into the smartphone's home button and uses a laser cut sapphire crystal, together with the capacitive touch sensor, to take a high-resolution image of your fingerprint. The technology analyzes the fingerprint and promises accurate readings from any angle.

The Touch ID sensor recognizes the touch of a finger so the sensor is only activated when you mean to activate it. That preserves battery life. Addressing privacy concerns, Apple said fingerprint information is encrypted and stored securely in the Secure Enclave inside the A7 chip on the iPhone 5s. The data is never stored on Apple servers or backed up to iCloud. Beyond unlocking the device, Touch ID can also be used as a secure way to approve purchases from the iTunes Store, App Store or iBooks Store. Is this secure enough to be the future of smartphone security?

Reliability and Security

We caught up with Paul Henry, security and forensic analyst at Lumension, to get his take on Touch ID from a security perspective. He told us the fingerprint scanner has a potential to be a real game changer for personal device security -- if it's done right. As he sees it, there are two factors that will determine the real success of this new feature, which has undeniable potential: reliability and security.

"There's a lot riding on the reliability factor. Will it work if I go for a swim and try to use my phone with raisin hands? What if it's cold outside and my fingers have shriveled a bit? Can I use my phone then? he asked. "People aren't going to be happy if they're locked out of their phones because of environmental factors."

If it's not both reliable and convenient, users will turn it off, Henry said. He also questions the longevity. The Guardian posted a rumor that there will be a 500-scan limit, which could be used up in six months. Apple could not immediately be reached for comment, but that seems unlikely.

The Jury Is Out

On the security front, Henry is betting that Apple has erred on the side of usability before considering security. Still, Touch ID has to be more secure than a four-digit password, which could easily be cracked in older iPhones. But, then again, how safe is your fingerprint? Think about it for a minute. We leave our fingerprints everywhere -- and they are certainly all over the phone, Henry noted.

Next, Apple said it's securing the biometric data, but is it really safe? "They say it's encrypted and not shared with other applications, but we'll have to wait and see how it works in practice. We also need to know if it's a single sign-on approach. If a single fingerprint grants access to other services -- particularly iCloud -- that's a frightening prospect if Apple hasn't done a truly expert job at securing that local credential," Henry said. "Naturally, we'll continue to have more questions than answers until we can get our hands on some phones later this month to do some testing."

Henry's conclusion: right now all we have is hype. He's waiting for the facts that will inform him whether or not the iPhone 5s will truly be a game changer.
 

Tell Us What You Think
Comment:

Name:

Teen with crazy mom:

Posted: 2013-09-25 @ 9:28am PT
I am worried about my mom using my finger while I sleep to unlock my phone

Steven James:

Posted: 2013-09-14 @ 12:31pm PT
Jennifer, Henry and a lot of other folks are really missing the point. You said it yourself. #1, it is more secure than the passcode #2, it is highly usable .. Apple has taken relatively old technology that often worked terribly, and has made it so that it works.. will there be cases in which it does not work (e.g. raisin hands from soaking in water?) .. SURE... but guess what, I bet there is some other way to access the phone in that case.. .challenge questions or some other way. I guarantee it. That is why the touch ID *must* be used in conjunction with a passcode. If I were CIO of a company, I would insist that all mobile devices we purchase from now on be iOS devices for two reasons: 1. iOS devices are MUCH MUCH less prone to viruses and malware than Windows, Symbian and of course the virus-laden Android (aka Herpes of the mobile operating systems), and 2. with something like Touch ID, Apple is making real attempts and strides at making our devices MORE SECURE and it is making the devices less desirable to steal. Sounds like an awesome bit of technology to me.



APC has an established a reputation for solid products that virtually pay for themselves upon installation. Who has time to spend worrying about system downtime? APC makes it easy for you to focus on business growth instead of business downtime with reliable data center systems and IT solutions. Learn more here.


 Apple/Mac
1.   MacBook Pros Get Update, Price Cut
2.   U.S. Firms Fish for Growth Overseas
3.   Will Next OS X Bring New Apple Grief?
4.   Apple and Samsung Feel the Heat
5.   Apple Faces Suit Over Work Breaks


advertisement
Apple Digital Book Settlement Set
But company still appealing decision.
Average Rating:
U.S. Firms Fish for Growth Overseas
Tech trendsetters are going abroad.
Average Rating:
Earnings, Excitement Grow for Apple
Momentum mounts as rumors swirl.
Average Rating:
Product Information and Resources for Technology You Can Use To Boost Your Business

Network Security Spotlight
Tor Internet Privacy Service Warns Users It Was Breached
You may never have heard of the Tor Project, but the Internet privacy service is making headlines. Tor’s devs say users might be victims of an attack launched against the project earlier this year.
 
Canadian Government Charges China With Cyberattack
The government of Canada is not happy with China. Canadian officials have accused "a highly sophisticated Chinese state-sponsored actor" of launching a cyberattack on its National Research Council.
 
Researchers Working To Fix Tor Security Exploit
Developers for the Tor privacy browser are scrambling to fix a bug revealed Monday that researchers say could allow hackers, or government surveillance agencies, to track users online.
 

Enterprise Hardware Spotlight
AMD's ARM-Based Opteron Out in $3K Dev Kit
It's dubbed "Seattle" and it's AMD's first 64-bit ARM-based Opteron processor. The low-power chip is being released as part of AMD’s Opteron A1100-series developer kit, and aimed at high-end data center needs.
 
Apple Updates MacBook Pros, Cuts Prices Up to $100
The popular MacBook Pro laptop line just got an update and a price cut of as much as $100. The MacBook Pro with Retina display now includes faster processors and double the memory.
 
Dell, BlackBerry Not Sweating Apple-IBM Alliance
IBM's recent move to partner with Apple to sell iPhones and iPads loaded with corporate applications has excited investors in both companies, but two rivals say they are unperturbed for now.
 

Mobile Technology Spotlight
Virgin Mobile Offers Custom Smartphone Plans
As the wireless carrier wars continue heating up, Virgin Mobile just threw the customization coal onto the fire. The firm has debuted a no-annual-contract plan with rates based on individual use.
 
Collaboration Provider Asana Revamps Mobile App
Asana, a collaboration software provider started by a Facebook founder, is now out with a rebuilt native iOS mobile app. It replaces one that even the company admits was not up to par.
 
Facebook: You Will Use Messenger, and You Will Like It
Starting this week, Facebook users with Android and iOS phones will be forced to use the separate Messenger app to send Facebook messages. Pending messages will still be visible in the main app.
 

Navigation
NewsFactor Network
Home/Top News | Enterprise I.T. | Cloud Computing | Applications | Hardware | Mobile Tech | Big Data | Communications
World Wide Web | Network Security | Data Storage | CRM Systems | Microsoft/Windows | Apple/Mac | Linux/Open Source | Personal Tech
Press Releases
NewsFactor Network Enterprise I.T. Sites
NewsFactor Technology News | Enterprise Security Today | CRM Daily

NewsFactor Business and Innovation Sites
Sci-Tech Today | NewsFactor Business Report

NewsFactor Services
FreeNewsFeed | Free Newsletters

About NewsFactor Network | How To Contact Us | Article Reprints | Careers @ NewsFactor | Services for PR Pros | Top Tech Wire | How To Advertise

Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
© Copyright 2000-2014 NewsFactor Network. All rights reserved. Article rating technology by Blogowogo. Member of Accuserve Ad Network.