Apple iPhone fingerprint reader means government business

“If a fingerprint reader is embedded in the new iPhone (perhaps in the home button), then Apple could quickly become the de facto leader in mobile device security, and both enterprises and governments around the world would likely look to add iOS devices to their networks,” Alex Colcernian writes for Seeking Alpha.

“While the fingerprint reader capability seems possible, facial recognition with the iPhone is as well (pending the right software),” Colcernian writes. “If one or both features make it into the new iPhone, porting them to the iPad will likely happen too, and the government may get hungry for more iOS products.”

Colcernian writes, “If security is the main focus of the new iPhone launch, I expect we will see a significant rise in sole source / solicitation for iPhone devices across many government departments.”

Read more in the full article here.

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20 Comments

    1. That’s not the thing to be concerned about. I suspect the loss of temperature and degradation would be an insurmoutable issue. We have fingerprint scanners at work, and they require certain thermal parameters to operate. The main difference between the way they are used at my work and this application is that our system isn’t connected to the internet. The problem is that once your fingerprint is turned into data, it could be transferred and stored somewhere. If this data is somehow compromised, there is no way to change your fingerprint.

      1. Why would the fingerprint need to be stored o the internet? Why not only stored on the iPhone? Like at your company. Seems to me it is only needed to identify you to your phone, it does not need to check with Apple or anyone else. Or am I mistaken?

        1. I am sure Apple will convert the fingerprint into a code using a oneway conversion routine similar to what is done with passwords (i.e. passwords are not transmitted across the wire or the converted code moves across the wire). Beside, unless your iPhone is part of an enterprise then there is no need to send that code to Apple.

          This way the device will convert every scan using similar code and the codes are compared.

          I am also sure Apple will provide means for updating your finger print or stop using it (say you hurt your finger and it is wrapped up or you are wearing gloves).

          There has to be ways to reset the print and in an enterprise that would require intervention by some kind of system administrator as more enterprise computer users are used to when having to reset their passwords.

          Using fingerprint would be great for accessing the iPhone, certain apps, passbook specially if the feature to pay with one’s iPhone is introduced.

          PS. I hope apple introduces a way to stop thieves from being able to wipe an iPhone and sell or use them.

        2. I don’t believe that the fingerprint HAS to be stored on the internet. My point is that if it is on a device that is on the internet, then IT is potentially “on the internet.”

          I nust think there are broader issues with the use of biometric security measures that should be discussed and debated. If a password is compromised, you reset your password. If your biometric data is compromised, you cannot reset you fingerprints or retinas.

            1. It doesn’t need to ‘copy’ your print as an image. All it needs to do is to identify a number of characteristics of your print and establish is those specific characteristics are again present the next time it’s scanned. Those data points could not be used to create an image of your fingerprint.

              The face recognition built in to iPhoto doesn’t store an image of your face, only certain data derived from that face. You can’t build a picture of somebody from the face recognition data alone.

            2. I understand that. I was using his terminology. The method you described does create data that is stored on your phone and used to compare to each new read in order to authenticate your identity. Thr data that is created is unique to you and cannot be changed. If some unauthoized person gets those “characteristics,” they will always be able to identify you.

    2. The point of adding a second method of authentication it to achieve ‘multi-factor’ authentication. The point is NEVER to provide just an alternative method of authentication. Apple know that.

      But yes, cheating a fingerprint reader can be as easy as chopping off the user’s finger and pressing it on the reader.

      One rumor has Apple’s reader detecting whether the fingerprint is attached to a living finger. What exactly constitutes ‘living’ is currently unknown. I suspect the reader simply uses a heat sensor. Therefore, after you chop off the finger, store it in water kept at 98.6ºF. 😉

        1. Excellent point! Add one teaspoon of salt to 8 ounces of water, (sorry we’re not on the metric system in the USA because we’re primitive that way), in order to maintain the tonicity of the water for proper fingerprint maintenance. 😉

        1. Ya think?

          Then again, what if your phone is the only source of design plans for the new nuclear Dooms Day Machine? Dr. Strangelove wants your finger.

          The whole thing is silly IMHO, thus the dark humor. But there are psychopaths and ‘truth’ absolutists running loose amidst us, sad to say. And also, privacy is a human right that’s well worth defending.

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