Anyone who’s watched a Hollywood thriller in the past three decades is familiar with biometric scanners, and along with it, the various means movie villains have used to subvert these systems, including methods that would be horrifying to consider when applied in real life. Now that the new iPhone 5s has a fingerprint scanner, those of us with more vivid imaginations have envisioned a new rash of thefts paired with bodily mutilations. Fortunately for everyone, the manufacturers of the fingerprint scanner on the new iPhone have stated quite clearly that the only way the scanner will register a proper fingerprint is if the finger is still attached to its living owner.
What this means for you:
It’s too soon to tell whether or not the technology in Apple’s latest smartphone is subject to the same hacks that rendered earlier incarnations useless for serious authentication. There are also concerns that Apple, or even the NSA could be gathering fingerprints for their super-surveillance database. Given all the attention the NSA has already been given regarding its privacy invasions, it’s a safe bet that they are going to steer clear of this particular minefield (at least for the time being) and Apple is also savvy enough to avoid alienating its passionate fanbase with such a heavy-handed misuse of their personal privacy.
Frankly, if the convenience of the fingerprint authentication gets you to secure your iPhone where before you did not, then I’m already a fan. For you Android users out there jealous of Apple’s spy gadget tech, have a look at Nymi, and watch for other biometric gadgets to arrive, especially now that Apple is trying to make them sexy again. You should always secure your mobile devices, especially if you use them to access email or work data. As we can all attest, passwords and pins are a big hassle, especially when you are on the go, but you should never let your phone out of the house without one.
Image courtesy of thawats / FreeDigitalPhotos.net