What if your iPhone fingerprint gets hacked?
The new technology aims to address the shortcomings of passwords, but it adds a potentially even more dangerous element.
People who have bought Apple's (AAPL) new iPhone 5S face a problem they might not have considered regarding its new fingerprint security scanner.
The technology is actually raising new concerns about privacy. As Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., noted in a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook that was provided to The Washington Post, people who have had other personal accounts hacked can easily change their password. But that option won't work if thieves can get access to someone's fingerprint.
"Let me put it this way: if hackers get a hold of your thumbprint, they could use it to identify and impersonate you for the rest of your life," the newspaper quotes from Franken's letter.
He wants to know what how Apple plans to use the fingerprint data it acquires from what it calls the Touch ID and wants assurances that it will never allow commercial third parties to gain access to the data.
Apple says it will store data on the 5S in an encrypted format and will protect its Touch ID data, according to the newspaper. Other companies, though, have made similar promises and broken them.
Franken's concerns are valid, and theTouch ID is attracting some unwanted attention. As CNET noted, one security researcher is offering $16,000 in cash to the first person who hacks the fingerprint scanner. Media reports say a group of German hackers called the Chaos Computer Club may be able to claim the prize. A spokesman for the group said bypassing Apple's security system "wasn't particularly challenging."
Plus, corporate info-tech managers are going to be putting the Touch ID through tests of their own before allowing it to be used on their networks. Chris Hertz, chief executive of IT company New Signature, told The Post it will take businesses as long as six months to add fingerprint data to their protocols.
In the end, however, the new iPhone may increase the use of mobile payments if it can give users a greater sense of security. After all, passwords have proven all too easy for thieves to crack.
Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr and at Berr's World.
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you think "your" phone is yours?
you think "your" bank account is yours?
you think "your" personal info is really private?
etc. etc. etc.
hate to say it... but not anymore guys....
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