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CCC Says Apple iPhone 5S TouchID Broken 481

Posted by timothy
from the well-if-that's-all dept.
hypnosec writes with word that the Chaos Computer Club claims to have "managed to break Apple's TouchID using everyday material and methods available on the web. Explaining their method on their website, the CCC hackers have claimed that all they did was photograph a fingerprint from a glass surface, ramped up the resolution of the photographed fingerprint, inverted and printed it using thick toner settings, smeared pink latex milk or white woodglue onto the pattern, lifted the latex sheet, moistened it a little and then placed it on the iPhone 5S's fingerprint sensor to unlock the phone." Update: 09/22 21:32 GMT by T :Reader mask.of.sanity adds a link to a video of the hack.
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CCC Says Apple iPhone 5S TouchID Broken

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  • Easy! (Score:5, Funny)

    by amiga3D (567632) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @03:01PM (#44918885)

    sounds really trivial to break. I can see all kinds of kids doing this.

    • Re:Easy! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @03:07PM (#44918919) Journal
      It's a bit much for casual purposes; but it effectively demonstrates that Apple's little toy is just another fingerprint sensor (albeit a more attractive one than the usual little stripe-thing) with no more resistance to an under-a-hundred-bucks, probably a few bucks per print, in quantity, attacks than any of the others.

      Still beats no passcode at all against a casual attacker; but it sounds like the CCC technique works just fine with digital reproductions (ie, you don't need the original thumbprint to use as a mold, or develop with cyanoacrylate vapor, or anything like that) so it's fuck up once, have your fingerprint on file for however long it stays roughly the same, which is never terribly encouraging.
      • Re:Easy! (Score:5, Funny)

        by noh8rz10 (2716597) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @03:14PM (#44918963)

        Remember that a hacker won't know which of 5 fingers the owner uses, so that's another layer of security

        • by noh8rz10 (2716597) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @03:20PM (#44919001)

          Maybe the best use of touch Id is as a complement to a code. Something you know, something you have, something you are. They have 2 out of 3, and with their Siri they could add voice too. "My voice is my passport. Verify"

          • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @03:30PM (#44919067) Journal

            You know what? I really love the sound of your voice. ... And there's this one word. I've always loved the sound of this word. ... I would really like to hear you say the word ..."passport".

        • by Sique (173459)
          So we have (as we can use 10 fingers) the gigantic key length of slightly more than 3 bits.
        • Re:Easy! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @03:24PM (#44919027)

          Remember that a hacker won't know which of 5 fingers the owner uses, so that's another layer of security

          Actually, many people have up to ten fingers. Personally, I use my big toe.

          But this shows that Apple was less than honest in their claims about pulse detection, and sub-surface tissue detection.

        • Yes. It isn't like Microsoft developed the phone, in which case it would be a relative certainty which one [tqn.com] the owner used.
      • by lgw (121541)

        Just like the "unlock gesture" in the new Windows stuff, this is a replacement for a 4 digit PIN, not for a real password. This break seems harder and more time consuming than brute forcing a 4 digit PIN, so it's fine.

        Anyone who actually cares will have forensic tools that will just immediately present the data anyhow - for any consumer device, physical access is access to the data, eventually.

        • by murdocj (543661)

          If you try to brute-force the pin doesn't the machine wipe the data? At least my ITouch claims that it will do so after 10 bad tries.

        • by MrMickS (568778)

          Just like the "unlock gesture" in the new Windows stuff, this is a replacement for a 4 digit PIN, not for a real password. This break seems harder and more time consuming than brute forcing a 4 digit PIN, so it's fine.

          Anyone who actually cares will have forensic tools that will just immediately present the data anyhow - for any consumer device, physical access is access to the data, eventually.

          It's a little more than that. Once unlocked the fingerprint can be used to authorise the iTunes and App stores ... not that that does you much more than allow you to download stuff to your stolen phone at present. Maybe Apple were aware of the limitation and that's why they've withheld access to the TouchID API from developers. It would be different if you could authorise real world purchases with it.

      • by sribe (304414)

        ...have your fingerprint on file for however long it stays roughly the same...

        Yes, but to be clear: setting up TouchID on an iPhone does not result in your fingerprint being on file, as it, like ALL fingerprint-matching software as far as I know, stores what is essentially a hash derived from landmark features of your prints, not your actual prints. So the on-file data would have to come from somewhere else in order to use this method.

        So, it's not super-secure, but at least you can't unlock it by breathing on it ;-)

      • Re:Easy! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dinfinity (2300094) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @03:34PM (#44919085)

        Still beats no passcode at all against a casual attacker

        Also beats pattern or password unlocks, which can be 'beaten' by just a bit of careful spying.

        To me, the only things that are of real concern with this technology are false negatives and durability (I'm pretty sure putting the scanner on the home button is going to end up being a bad idea).

      • Indeed, what happened to all the posters insisting it read the blood vessels under the skin instead?

        I'll tell you what though, the security of my phone wouldn't be a concern if I was a new iphone owner, it's where my fingerprints might end up that would worry me. And to think that concern might have been tinfoil hattery only a short while ago.

      • Re:Easy! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by maccodemonkey (1438585) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @04:00PM (#44919283)

        It's a bit much for casual purposes; but it effectively demonstrates that Apple's little toy is just another fingerprint sensor (albeit a more attractive one than the usual little stripe-thing) with no more resistance to an under-a-hundred-bucks, probably a few bucks per print, in quantity, attacks than any of the others.

        Still beats no passcode at all against a casual attacker; but it sounds like the CCC technique works just fine with digital reproductions (ie, you don't need the original thumbprint to use as a mold, or develop with cyanoacrylate vapor, or anything like that) so it's fuck up once, have your fingerprint on file for however long it stays roughly the same, which is never terribly encouraging.

        I think every Slashdotter's wet dream is that they need to keep to keep their phones safe against a CSI style government interrogation, but this is really just for anti-theft or corporate secrets. The passcode expires in 48 hours anyway, and a business has remote wipe, so it's just a backup in another chain of security measures. And the fingerprint ready is really meant as a convenience for people who are too lazy to set a passcode at all, which is undeniably less safe.

        You know what a government is going to do if they have you and your phone? Take your finger, and press it to your phone, which legally they can compel (or physically force) you to do. All this talk about "Oh, what if the government has your fingerprint on file?" Please. That's overthinking it.

        • Re:Easy! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by AmiMoJo (196126) * <(mojo) (at) (world3.net)> on Sunday September 22, 2013 @05:53PM (#44919979) Homepage

          Anyone targeting data stored on a phone would come armed with a Faraday cage bag. You can buy them commercially, designed for "law enforcement" with the goal of preventing remote wipes. Some even come with a cable entry grommet so you can keep the phone powered and data-rape it without removing it from the bag, just in case the user enabled full device encryption.

          • Anyone targeting data stored on a phone would come armed with a Faraday cage bag. You can buy them commercially, designed for "law enforcement" with the goal of preventing remote wipes. Some even come with a cable entry grommet so you can keep the phone powered and data-rape it without removing it from the bag, just in case the user enabled full device encryption.

            Of course any Slashdotter knows that once someone has local access anything stored locally is basically crackable anyway. So if one had information they really wanted secure it would likely be on a remote server anyway, which a device can't get to in a Faraday cage.

            That's also what makes the passcode and fingerprinting debate a bit silly. If someone like the government physically had your device, they need neither the passcode or the fingerprint. They have the abilities to dissect the device and pull any in

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        It's a bit much for casual purposes; but it effectively demonstrates that Apple's little toy is just another fingerprint sensor (albeit a more attractive one than the usual little stripe-thing) with no more resistance to an under-a-hundred-bucks, probably a few bucks per print, in quantity, attacks than any of the others.

        Still beats no passcode at all against a casual attacker; but it sounds like the CCC technique works just fine with digital reproductions (ie, you don't need the original thumbprint to use

    • Re:Easy! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @03:41PM (#44919133)

      "sounds really trivial to break. I can see all kinds of kids doing this."

      It's straight out of the Mythbusters fingerprint scanning episode.

      They didn't find one they couldn't defeat, and many of them were ridiculously easy. They used exactly this technique.

      I've been saying it for years: at our currently level of technology, relying on fingerprints for security (or nearly any biometric for that matter) is asking for trouble. It's just not good enough.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is far short of the lengths a crazy ex girlfriend or suspicious spouse would go to.

    • Re:Easy! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @04:09PM (#44919371) Homepage Journal

      sounds really trivial to break. I can see all kinds of kids doing this.

      Known vector. Gummy-bear attack.

      The core issue is that you leave copies of your authenticator EVERYWHERE. It's as if you dropped 85% accurate copies of your smartcard on every item you touched - with random 15% damage to the material - and a card reader designed for 15% error in reads.

      Any such scheme is going to be subject to this kind of impersonation or gaming. This is why biometrics are always a bad ID choice. Also, the A/D conversion is low-entropy, among other problems.

      There's a false assumption, that because I can uniquely identify another person with 99.999% accuracy, based on your sound, shape and appearance, that therefore this is the best way a machine should do so. It is a falsehood that is reinforced by a misleading intuitive perception. The core issue concerns the questions related to what constitutes "identity" and an "authentication factor" in systems. Neither of these correlate to actual persons or their real-world characteristics in a unique and meaningful way, that is not also subject to spoofing, injecting or revocation DoS.

      • Re:Easy! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @05:34PM (#44919855)

        sounds really trivial to break. I can see all kinds of kids doing this.

        Known vector. Gummy-bear attack.

        The core issue is that you leave copies of your authenticator EVERYWHERE. It's as if you dropped 85% accurate copies of your smartcard on every item you touched - with random 15% damage to the material - and a card reader designed for 15% error in reads.

        Any such scheme is going to be subject to this kind of impersonation or gaming. This is why biometrics are always a bad ID choice. Also, the A/D conversion is low-entropy, among other problems.

        There's a false assumption, that because I can uniquely identify another person with 99.999% accuracy, based on your sound, shape and appearance, that therefore this is the best way a machine should do so. It is a falsehood that is reinforced by a misleading intuitive perception. The core issue concerns the questions related to what constitutes "identity" and an "authentication factor" in systems. Neither of these correlate to actual persons or their real-world characteristics in a unique and meaningful way, that is not also subject to spoofing, injecting or revocation DoS.

        Let's say you get your grubby hands on an iPhone 5S and are immediately overcome by an irresistible urge to crack it open.

        1) Getting the victim to pose his finger for a 2400dpi photo is not an option so you'd have to bag the device and dust it for prints since you'll probably need to make the prints more visible. I suppose you could get the hang of that in about half an hour if you are a novice with a print dusting sets you bought online.
        2) Find a good thumb print. There is no guarantee that the print on the button sensor surface is any good nor is there a certainty that there is a usable print anywhere on the phone. I suppose you could monitor your victim and steal some of his drinking glasses and coffee cups but that means 'trivial' goes out the window right there.
        3) For the sake of argument let's say you get 1 and 2 right and find a good print on the sensor surface or somewhere else on the phone, eliminating the need to poke around stealing coffee cups and drinking glasses. You now have still have to do what it says in the article and the photo processing, printing and latex covering that sounds like quite a bit more than 10 minutes of work, especially if you have never done it before.

        That does not sound exactly trivial to me. Trivial is faking your way past Google's face recognition-login feature with a picture of the phone's owner. You could conceivably do that by borrowing his phone, snapping a picture of him with your iPad and using the image in the iPad to log into his phone... Ooops! somebody already went and did that [youtube.com] and it looks like a 20 second operation. Going through the above procedure to defeat the fingerprint scanner takes what? A hour? The average pick-pocket would probably not bother and the time it takes to crack phones this way with no guarantee of reward would make it un-economcal for criminal bands to crack phones on a large scale (in the hope of finding account numbers or dirty pictures for a blackmailing, ... or whatever) which means that this is way better security than no passcode at all. If you are carrying data valuable enough to make it worth while to go through this exercise to retrieve it you should put a 20 character password on your iPhone or consider putting the data on an IronKey in stead. And yes I know the NSA can probably pull this off in 10 minutes or less but if you have the NSA after you:

        a) They probably have more efficient ways to get into your device than stealing it and hacking it by lifting your greasy fingerprints.
        b) You have bigger things to worry about than somebody reading your e-mail... like getting snatched and sent to a secret jail for a course of water-boarding, or being on the shortlist for a drone strike.

        • Trivial will be running a crack on the limited number of hashes that can be generated by the phone's sampler for fingerprint images.

          The problem with this is not where it has started, as a simple PIN replacement for iPhones. It is where this is headed, now that Apple has used their marketing position to deliver Biometric authentication as a security technology in the mainstream.

          People who are good at technology problem-solving are often equipped with exactly wrong type of mental orientation for examining imp

    • by smash (1351)

      Of course, its never going to be 100% secure. However if someone has stolen your device and had enough time to go through the process of faffing around making a fingerprint to ulnlock it, presumably you've already wiped it with find my iphone. If someone has physical control of your device, all bets are off.

      However, as an unlock to prevent against casual snooping, the fingerprint scanner is convenient, and much less hassle than a passcode. Perhaps having the phone fall-back to passcode security after

  • If true (Score:4, Funny)

    by djupedal (584558) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @03:01PM (#44918887)
    new iPhone owner's should get their money back. This was supposed to be updated tech that resisted decade's old spoofing.
    • Maybe the original authentec technology was just too bulky and form won over function?

      • Re:If true (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Lehk228 (705449) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @03:16PM (#44918981) Journal
        fingerprint identification is fundamentally and irredeemably broken. no other authentication method leaves copies of itself all over the place.

        everything else is an arms race between verifying it is a finger and pretending to be a finger.
        • fingerprint identification is fundamentally and irredeemably broken. no other authentication method leaves copies of itself all over the place.

          Sigh. Biometrics can of course be defeated as long as the sensor is stupidly simple. And big surprise... a mass-produced mobile device built at the absolute lowest cost they can get away with... can be defeated. But biometrics was never meant to replace existing authentication measures, but to augment them. Three factor authentication is still the best way of securing a device, location, etc. One factor authentication like what's demonstrated here... is ... well ... not very smart.

    • by gagol (583737)
      A security scheme that depends on a non-changeable password that you leave physical copies around everytime you touch something bare hand... what could go wrong?
  • Isn't this the same attack vector that can be used with any finger print scanner?
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @03:09PM (#44918933) Journal
      Pre-release hype was that Insanely Great Magic Innovation or something used OMG capacitance to magically foil the classic attacks. I don't think that Apple was dumb enough to promise any such thing; but their drooling fans certainly did.
      • New products are never hyped. That would be dishonest. Gadget slogans are all like:

        - "We like it well enough, but you should make up your own mind."
        - "We tried to improve it over last year's model. We think we succeeded -- at least partially."
        - "It has some benefits for some people. It has some drawbacks for some other people. Be careful buying it to make sure it's good for you."

        It's the new Internet-forum-approved marketing trend! Internet forum whining and moralizing about dubious gadget hype finall

        • by Nerdfest (867930)

          Not for Apple. Your list doesn't contain any of the following: amazing, insanely, or magical.

      • by shadowrat (1069614) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @05:44PM (#44919911)

        Pre-release hype was that Insanely Great Magic Innovation or something used OMG capacitance to magically foil the classic attacks. I don't think that Apple was dumb enough to promise any such thing; but their drooling fans certainly did.

        i don't recall exactly what Tim Cook promised, but i think he was hyping the convenience over the robustness of protection. I think they claimed the advanced technology would enable it to respond quickly, and it provided more protection than no passcode. That seems in line with these findings.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Isn't this the same attack vector that can be used with any finger print scanner?

      There are a number of things to check to make sure that the fingerprint actually belongs to a human:
      - Pulse
      - Temperatur
      - Conductivity (probably worked around by moisturizing the printed fingerprint)

      But at the end of the day, fingerprints are just too easy to fake and not a good method of authentication.

    • Isn't this the same attack vector that can be used with any finger print scanner?

      No. Many modern fingerprint scanners check for a pulse, and/or detect subsurface structures that do not show up in a lifted print. Apple claimed that this scanner did both of these checks, but apparently they were lying, and it actually does neither.

  • by retroworks (652802) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @03:23PM (#44919017) Homepage Journal
    Interesting. We do have to remind ourselves that security needs to be proportionate to risk. The first rule is value, or what the potential for loss is. I want a really really difficult password for my credit card account, I get angry when a newspaper login requests the same password algorithm (how much should I care if someone reads the news site using my login account?) The second factor is proximity. If you steal the president's laptop from off the president's desk, you should face unheard of security. If the president's digital needle lies anonymously at the bottom of a city haystack, the statistical risk shrinks. The fingerprint app, like Android's code generator, seems like an appropriate level of security for a lost or stolen cell phone.
    • We do have to remind ourselves that security needs to be proportionate to risk.

      Exactly. You can make your phone the most secure thing in the world, requiring a randomized string of alphanumerics umpteen characters long that you recite from memory, but you've also made it utterly impractical to use.

      One thing I noticed about this method is that they didn't get their fingerprints from the iphone itself, on the site they got them from a glass bottle. There's a lot of residue from fingerprints on my screen and a lot of potential fingerprints, but some of them are smudged from where I m

  • by The Cisco Kid (31490) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @03:25PM (#44919031)

    the security sender that you use for the touchscreen..

    How hard is that?

    In fact I'm surprised that wouldn't already be part of the advice for users of this.

    Either that or require a swipe from two different fingers, in a specified order.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 22, 2013 @03:25PM (#44919035)
    Instead of using a fingerprint, use a Nipple print! [kotaku.com]
  • I'm sure law enforcement loves this. While they may not be able to force someone to give up their password, getting a fingerprint is easy.

  • by NoKaOi (1415755) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @03:34PM (#44919089)

    ...the iPhone's fingerprint scanner works well. I was expecting it to be a gimmick that would give more false negatives or false positives than real results. That these guys had to use the same methods they would use for a high-quality expensive fingerprint scanner, and that those methods actually worked, tells me the iPhone's fingerprint scanner has potential.

  • Sounds like the standard procedure to fake consumer-grade readers.

  • Not exactly new (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TejWC (758299) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @03:40PM (#44919121)

    I remember Mythbusters doing something similar [youtube.com] with a multi thousand dollar computer secruity system.

  • Gee (Score:4, Funny)

    by msobkow (48369) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @03:43PM (#44919147) Homepage Journal

    Something you leave lying around on everything you touch is a poor key for security.

    Who'd a thunk it?

  • Surprise, surprise. Fingerprint identification is rarely secure, some implementations can even be tricked using gummy bears. Really secure ones usually have rather steep costs and bulky supporting hardware associated (usually to check for blood flow to ensure the finger is a live one). Anything in a laptop or smartphone has no chance at real security whatsoever.

    But guess what? This probably wasn't an exercise in security, but ease-of-use: being able to unlock your phone with a touch is easier than slide-to-unlock or passcodes. And it was a good exercise (not to mention fun when it was discovered that the software can even interpret a cat's pawprint). It was successful. So what if it can be broken easily, almost all of fingerprinting is the same.

  • Am I the only person these days without a slide printer? Jeez.

  • by EGSonikku (519478) <petersen.mobile@gmai l . c om> on Sunday September 22, 2013 @03:59PM (#44919273)

    Fingerprints are good because they replace ZERO security. Most people don't PIN lock their phones. Finger Print lock is too convenient not to use.

    It is meant as a deterrent to common thieves, and works well as such. A robber isn't going to grab your phone, ask for a nice clear print, and then run home to his laser printer and latex (and you could remote wipe the device in the mean time anyway).

    If its the government you're worried about...well, if they have physical access to your device they probably have you in custody and can compel you to unlock it anyway, or just use existing forensic tools and warrants to get what they want. Even then we're talking about the unlikely scenario of you being arrested and having anything more interesting on your phone than funny cat pictures.

    I'm trying to imagine a "real world" scenario where TouchID is less secure than a 4 digit passcode or no security at all...and I got nothing.

    • by jones_supa (887896) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @04:28PM (#44919511)

      Fingerprints are good because they replace ZERO security.

      Mod parent up. So often geeks think that if they can find some fancy way to overcome a security feature, it somehow automatically makes it completely useless.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      For a casual user what you say is mostly correct, but that isn't how it was marketed. They claimed it was some kind of super sensor that required a pulse and was immune to simple copying methods. Claimed you could rely on it for security.

      If they had just been honest from the start it would have been fine.

      I'm trying to imagine a "real world" scenario where TouchID is less secure than a 4 digit passcode or no security at all...and I got nothing.

      Anyone who might be targeted, say a business user with potentiall

    • by Overzeetop (214511) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @07:26PM (#44920431) Journal

      Well, some lucky kid *didn't* lock the android phone that fell out of his pocket while rip-roaring drunk, so that when I picked it up off the side of the road I could get in and send him an email that I'd found it. Sure, I could have just popped the SIM and sent it back to Verizon, but it would have taken weeks or days, not 2 hours, for the guy to get his phone back.

      I don't PIN lock my phone because I'm lazy, I do it so my family can use my phone easily. I definitely wouldn't use the fingerprint recognition if I had it.

    • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Monday September 23, 2013 @12:27AM (#44921519) Homepage Journal

      And for power users, fingerprint plus passcode is more secure than just one or the other. I'd love to see a setting like "require both fingerprint and passcode to initially unlock the phone. Lock the phone immediately when it goes to sleep, but allow it to be unlocked with either passcode or fingerprint for up to five minutes."

      I'd set this in a heartbeat. Basically, it'd be more secure than any current options when initially unlocking the phone. It'd also be more convenient than the "require a passcode immediately when the phone goes to sleep" setting, and more secure than the "don't require a password for the next x minutes" settings. This is how I'd like the system to work.

    • by swillden (191260)

      Fingerprints are good because they replace ZERO security. Most people don't PIN lock their phones. Finger Print lock is too convenient not to use.

      This is correct.

      I've been explaining on /. (and elsewhere) for years that fingerprint authentication is useless except in high-security applications where someone validates the scan is done properly... but that it's highly useful for identification applications, where all you need is a very low assurance that the person being scanned is who they appear to be.

      The key is to make sure that users understand that the fingerprint scanner is a security upgrade for those who would use NO security, but significa

  • Blah blah blah... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by doggo (34827) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @04:06PM (#44919327) Homepage

    Sure they can break it. If they have your fingerprint to photograph. Assuming this is a lost or robbed phone, where will they get your fingerprint? From the phone? Maybe. Maybe not.

    Apple's solution is good enough for civilian security on a phone, as long as you're not oblivious and pay attention to your surroundings while walking in unfamiliar areas so you don't get mugged, and don't lose phones regularly, or store very sensitive information on your phone.

  • Oh good... (Score:5, Funny)

    by rkww (675767) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @04:07PM (#44919347)
    Oh good, now I can make a back-up fingerprint in case I lose my finger...
  • by Shavano (2541114) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @04:10PM (#44919379)

    Lift the fingerprint from the touch sensor of your iPhone. There's no need to have another source for the fingerprint.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @05:45PM (#44919923) Homepage

    All fingerprint scanners are utter failures. Anyone that has dealt with them for the past 5 years has known this.

    The fingerprint system in it is to keep friends from grabbing your phone and posting photos of their junk as you.

  • by SternisheFan (2529412) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @08:39PM (#44920737)
    About 2 years ago I had an 'Ask Slashdot' submission accepted, and I was asking the /. community about security on my android phone. My concerns were about 'forced Blue tooth hacks', WiFi security, etc. A couple hundred comments generated, most all of them very derisive of the possibility that these devices were not secure, except for one or two commenters who agreed that, yes, there are ways that the phone can be accessed. Today we know far more about the backdoors on all types of phones, computers, routers, NSA... etc. Then, it turns out, most all the commenters here were..., wrong, or at least 'ill-informed', shall I say?

    I beleive I stated then that I'd heard you should never say anything in an email, text or voice call that you wouldn't want to be repeated back in an open courtroom. Today, to expect any perfect type of security from any form of electronic device would be quite a stupid thought, especially from any people who keep up on current events.

    I take no joy here now in the fact that my suspicions of two years ago were all valid and vindicated. Having said that, fellow /.'ers, who had my 'karma' demoted back then because of my 'Ask Slashdot' submission, I just want to say here....

    I told you so!

  • total miss (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Monday September 23, 2013 @04:39AM (#44922137) Homepage Journal

    Of course a fingerprint sensor can be fooled. It doesn't take a video to prove that the sky is blue, you know?

    What everyone misses is two important points. These are the days I'm glad I got out of the security industry because quite frankly, while lots of people are brilliant at the technology, most people are complete failures at the psychology of security.

    First, a lot of people have no lock at all on their iPhones today. None. You can pick it up, slide to unlock and you're in. The fingerprint sensor will prevent the casual attacker, especially the one who doesn't want you noticing your phone is missing (people leave their phones on their tables when going to the bathroom, something that puzzles me but it happens).

    Second, even an attacker dedicated and knowledgable enough to get your prints from somewhere and then build a fake finger will be slowed down enough to give you time for things like noticing your phone is missing, doing a remote wipe or changing your passwords.

    Third, everyone is crying that fingerprints aren't good for "casual security" like your phone and should be reserved for serious stuff. You fools got that exactly backwards. Because fingerprints are so easily faked, never, ever use them for anything serious. But for your phone, it's perfect. It's easy to use, you can't forget it, and it's unique enough that you don't have to worry about everyone else also having 1-2-3-4 as their super-secret password.

    Security is never about perfection, it is always about having the adequate security for your purpose and threat scenario. For 99% of people, having a fingerprint sensor is good enough and so easy to use that contrary to all the "good" security (that nobody enables), it will actually get used.

    So for all I care, the real-world-stupid geniuses can continue theoretical discussions about theoretical security that nobody really uses, while the real-world normal people have just been given something that will jump their security level up from basically nothing to at least something. That's a massive improvement.

Never make anything simple and efficient when a way can be found to make it complex and wonderful.

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