iPhone 5S hack a black eye for biometrics

Michael Carroll
25 Sep 2013

Reports that the fingerprint scanner on Apple’s iPhone 5S has already been hacked could hinder mainstream acceptance of biometric security, a senior Kaspersky Labs researcher claims.

David Emm, senior security researcher at the firm, notes Apple’s inclusion of fingerprint identification in its latest high-end smartphone is a chance to change perceptions of the technology as a viable replacement for passwords and codes. However, he says Chaos Computer Club's claims to have bypassed the iPhone’s security feature highlights a key weakness of the new technology.

“If my passcode becomes compromised I can simply replace it with a new one – hopefully one that’s more secure. But I can’t change my fingerprint.”

Emm notes the club’s claim to have cracked the biometric panel with a fingerprint read from a glass surface is also bad news for the technology’s chances of replacing passcodes.

“Because of the nature of fingerprints, you effectively leave your password everywhere you go, so unless a fingerprint reader is able to fully distinguish between a real finger and a fake one, a fingerprint scan is a poor substitute for a password.”

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