How Safe is Your Smartphone Fingerprint Reader? The Verge recently posted a video and article on how easy it is to crack an iPhone or Galaxy S6 Edge with some dental putty and having a fingerprint of the individual who owns the phone (i.e., taken off a beer bottle).
You can watch the video below:
Turns out there are numerous videos on YouTube on how to do this. We have seen it on the movies, and you can easily do this yourself with how to videos on YouTube. The Huffinton Post had a similar article on this subject in 2014. CNBC had a similar article in February 2016.
The best recommendation to securing your smartphone is using the passcode. However, the good news is that Marc Rogers, Lookout, says, “the sky isn’t falling. The attack requires skill, patience, and a really good copy of someone’s fingerprint — any old smudge won’t work. Furthermore, the process to turn that print into a useable copy is sufficiently complex that it’s highly unlikely to be a threat for anything other than a targeted attack by a sophisticated individual.” Marc’s analogy of using locks on our doors to keep people from entering is not because we know it is perfect but because it does a fairly good job of keeping unwanted entries and is convenient. The fingerprint reader is just as effective and easy to use and keeps our smartphone private in most cases.
Apple’s statement about the security of the iTouch Fingerprint Reader says, “Every fingerprint is unique, so it is rare that even a small section of two separate fingerprints are alike enough to register as a match for Touch ID. The probability of this happening is 1 in 50,000 for one enrolled finger. This is much better than the 1 in 10,000 odds of guessing a typical 4-digit passcode. Although some passcodes, like “1234”, may be more easily guessed, there is no such thing as an easily guessable fingerprint pattern. Instead, the 1 in 50,000 probability means it requires trying up to 50,000 different fingerprints until potentially finding a random match. But Touch ID only allows five unsuccessful fingerprint match attempts before you must enter your passcode, and you can’t proceed until doing so.”
So, yes, your smartphone can be hacked through your fingerprint reader or even through your passcode by someone who is sophisticated enough to do it. The odds are simply remote that someone with those skills would want to hack your smartphone.