“Hackers are gearing up for Friday’s release of the iPhone 5S, aiming to be the first to crack the device’s first-ever fingerprint scanner, a security feature that Apple Inc hopes will set the new model apart from the competition,” Jim Finkle reports for Reuters. “To sweeten the contest, a group of security researchers and a micro venture capital firm have pitched to offer a prize to the hacker who breaks through ahead of the rest. The booty, promoted on the website (http://istouchidhackedyet.com/), includes more than $13,000 in cash, bottles of bourbon and tequila, and other prizes.”

“Among those hoping to win the prizes — and the glory of uncovering potential flaws so Apple can then fix them — is David Kennedy, a former U.S. Marine Corps cyber-intelligence analyst who did two tours in Iraq and now runs his own consulting firm, TrustedSec LLC,” Finkle reports. “‘I am just waiting to get my hands on it to figure out how to get around it first,’ the founder of the DerbyCon hacking conference told the Thomson Reuters Global Markets Forum this week. ‘I’ll be up all night trying.’”

Finkle reports, “To be sure, experts say they know of nothing intrinsically wrong with Apple’s fingerprint reader, based on what the company has so far disclosed. Reviewers this week gushed over its ease of use and reliability… Data used for verification is encrypted and stored in a secure enclave of the phone’s A7 processor chip. No information is sent to any remote servers, including Apple’s iCloud system. HD Moore, a well-known hacking expert and chief researcher with the security software maker Rapid7, said such protections mean ‘the bar is a little bit higher,’ but that certainly won’t discourage hackers from trying to break the new technology.”

“Apple shouldn’t take hackers’ enthusiasm personally,” Finkle reports. “Bugs are often disclosed by ‘white hats,’ or hackers who unearth flaws and report them so manufacturers can repair them, preventing criminal exploitation. The hope is the good guys find them before ‘black hats’ uncover them for nefarious purposes. White hats have found multiple security issues with iPhones, iPads and in the App store since Apple launched its first smartphone in 2007. They say that scrutiny has helped make it one of the most secure devices on the market today.”

Read more in the full article here.

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