Thursday, September 12, 2013

Apple's New iPhone 5S Introduces Biometric Scanner Security

I’ll admit it. The geek in me finds the new iPhone 5S a bit exciting and intriguing. While the overall technology of the iPhone 5S may not offer much in the way of radical changes, Apple has used this platform to launch their biometric scanning security feature. 

How Does It Work?
Most of us have seen more than our share of "scanners" in the movies and on TV. You place a hand or a finger on the screen, it is scanned and pattern matched, then access is granted. This type of technology is relatively easy to crack by a determined thief.
With the iPhone 5S no pictures of your fingerprint are taken and stored. Instead the 5S uses a highly sensitive capacitance measuring device.
Here’s how the smart kids describe it. There is an array of microscopic capacitance cells built into the home button. Each of these cells is no wider than the ridges of your fingerprint. The cells consist of a pair of plates separated by an insulator. When you place your finger on the button, the ridges cause current to flow between the plates, while those plates located under the valley do not conduct.
This allows the software to generate a mathematical algorithm of your fingerprint. The image created is far more accurate than one generated by an optical scanner. This system also measures the contours of your finger. This approach makes it much harder to fool these security systems, as opposed to the optical scanners, which use light and dark patterns to analyze your fingerprint.
What Does This Mean to You?
So, you won’t need to swipe your screen and remember a password anymore. The convenience is a big selling point, but the scanner on the iPhone 5S also makes it a virtually impossible challenge for someone to access your phone, even for the NSA.  Just kidding guys.
Passwords are passé. While many folks have expressed privacy concerns about this technology, it’s the future of device and software security. Passwords can be easily transferred to other people, not so with your fingerprint. I think all of your sensitive information should be protected by this higher level of security.
I’m sure there will be some hiccups with this new launch, but I am always happy to see any attempt to improve safety and security. As always, let’s be careful out there.


Serge Birbrair said...

what will happen if you cut your finger?

Chief Alexander said...

Great question, Serge. My guess is that they will need to allow for a secondary fingerprint.