(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]

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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