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  (Source: Paramount Pictures)
A crook can't cut off your finger and access your iPhone

One of the biggest features that Apple announced on new iPhone 5S during its event earlier this week was the Touch ID system. Apple has now offered more details on Touch ID that may help some that are concerned about privacy feel better.

Apple says that the scanner doesn't store actual images of the user's fingerprint on the device. Instead, the ID system stores "fingerprint data" which remains encrypted inside the iPhone’s 64-bit A7 processor.

The Wall Street Journal reports that even if someone cracked the encryption chip, it would be highly unlikely that they could reverse engineer someone's fingerprint from the digital signature. Apple also says that it won't allow third-party applications to use the fingerprint scanner for the time being, and people who use Touch ID also have to create a passcode as a backup.

One important aspect of the Touch ID system is that the passcode must be used to unlock the phone if the device is rebooted or hasn't been unlocked and 48 hours. With all that said, the iPhone fingerprint scanner doesn't work perfectly. For instance, testers have said that the device doesn't work well if your fingers are damp from sweat, water, or lotion.

Apple even went so far as to point out that if a criminal hacked off your finger, they would be unable to unlock your phone. Apple says the Touch ID sensor searches for vitality signs to ensure that the finger is attached to the hand of a living person.

Sources: WSJ [1], [2]

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Everything old is new again
By Solandri on 9/12/2013 2:12:19 PM , Rating: 3
Because it's Apple doing it.

The fingerprint scanner tech is not new. Laptops have had it for about 10 years now (my 2004 laptop had it). Apple bought the company last year (and unceremoniously dropped support for all the laptop vendors who had bought the devices).

The iPhone isn't even the first phone to have a fingerprint scanner. The Motorola ATRIX had it almost 3 years ago.

RE: Everything old is new again
By ven1ger on 9/12/2013 4:17:18 PM , Rating: 3
My daughter's HP laptop, bought about 2 years ago, has the fingerprint thing. She's never found a reason to use the fingerprint scanner. Guess it's one of those things like throwing in things that most people won't use but sounds nicer for marketing when you have a list of things to differentiate against the competition.

Don't know how useful this technology will be on the new phones since it seems to be one more thing to go wrong or to complicate things when trying to use your equipment.

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