After a substantial amount of early skepticism upon its arrival with the iPhone 5s last year, Apple’s Touch ID has settled nicely as a central iOS feature, even expanding to reach the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 just a couple of months back. But it hasn’t all been plain sailing, with the fingerprint sensor having been the subject of scrutiny by security experts, and now, it has emerged that it’s theoretically possible to bypass Apple’s latest security measure or any fingerprint based biometric system using a closeup photographs of your fingers and software that is available readily.
The thing about digital security is that it’s never 100 percent infallible. You only have to look at what has happened to Sony recently – and what has happened to Sony in the past – to realize that even the most expensive, well-researched firewall infrastructures can be tapped into. And while it’s now accepted that Touch ID is more secure than the four-digit passcode could ever be, the Chaos Computer Club believes it has a method of reproducing fingerprints using only a small number of photos.
The Chaos Computer Club just so happens to be the largest group of hackers in Europe, and now they claim to reproduce fingerprints by using a few photos of the fingers coupled with software that is commercially available.
The revelation was made at the 31st annual Chaos Computer Club convention in Germany by Jan Krissler, who managed to copy the thumbprint of German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen. Using the VeriFinger software, he managed to recreate a readable thumbprint using several differently-angled shots of von der Leyen’s thumb, which would theoretically render Touch ID and similarly-included security measures as redundant.
There’s no doubt that while it’s alarming that a Defense Minister’s thumbprint has been successfully replicated using photographs, it’s not the kind of thing that we, as general users, should worry too much about. It does, however, mean that with enough time and resources, somebody could hack Touch ID like biometric systems and steal sensitive data and information, and if nothing else, Krissler’s keynote may spell the end of public figures and politicians waving profusely when being photographed.
This, however, can only be a good thing.
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