iPhone 5S Touch ID: Good for Consumers, Bad for Hackers?

Since Apple acquired the biometric authentication company, AuthenTec, in 2012, people have been waiting for the introduction of a fingerprint reader. Now, it is here, and it is known as Touch ID and proves to be a revolution in the area of security. Touch ID works by using a biometric sensor which is able to scan beneath the surface of the skin. This sensor is thinner than a strand of human hair and ensures that someone cannot use a fake fingerprint instead of a real one.

Cause For Excitement Or Concern?

iphone 5s touch idThere are mixed feelings as to whether or not this feature is a cause for people to become excited or a bit panicky. Phil Schiller, the head of marketing at Apple, claims that this feature has been introduced as a security measure.

Today, more and more people are filling their smartphones with valuable content and neglecting to use the safety features such as activating the passcode function on their iPads and iPhones. These passcodes require users to enter a four digit PIN number in order to unlock the screen for use. Some companies, such as Nuance, a leading biometric company, feel that the traditional password is obsolete for its intended purpose and that users already have too many passwords and PINs to try to remember.

Research shows that most Internet users have to remember over eleven different passwords to go about their routine business and activities online. This leads to people reusing the same passwords and logins on various sites, making them more vulnerable to hackers. This is why Touch ID is such a great solution to this problem, because each fingerprint is unique. Due to the depth of the scanner’s capabilities in Touch ID, this makes a fingerprint impossible to forge.

What Will Touch ID Be Used For?

At this time, the Touch ID feature is only available to use as a means to unlock an iPhone and make purchases from iTunes. Developers may not use this technology in their own apps at this time.

Will Touch ID Fully Protect Against Hacking?

When dealing with data stored on electronic devices, there is always the possibility that hackers can gain access to the information at some point. In fact, according to CBS News, this much-hyped security feature has been cracked by a German hacking group recently. However, this technology is a step in the right direction. Apple is also taking precautions to avoid such risks by storing the user’s fingerprint exclusively on an encrypted partition within the device itself. The fingerprint will not be stored externally, and Apple servers will not be able to access a copy. The fingerprint will also not be able to be backed up to iCloud.


Apple is a trendsetter, and soon other companies are sure to take their lead and pursue biometric technology as well. What this means in that in the future, traditional passwords that make consumers easy targets for hackers may become a thing of the past. Instead, they will be replaced with much more secure protection such as fingerprints, voice print analysis, and retina scans. Consumers can expect several devices in 2014 to be equipped with such types of technology. As it looks right now, Touch ID seems to be good thing for the consumer, and a bad thing for hackers.

[Image credit: Churwin, Flickr]

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