Apple calms Touch ID privacy concerns again, says chicken wings and fingerprinting don't mix

Apple calms Touch ID privacy concerns again, says chicken wings and fingerprinting don't mix
Apple took some time after the official keynote presentation on several occasions to clarify the way it is sandboxing your fingerprints that the new Touch ID sensor uses to unlock the iPhone 5s, or authenticate Apple Store, iBooks or iTunes purchases. 

We likely have Edward Snowden and overzealous NSA budget allocations to blame for the question on everyone's minds the second they heard fingerprint scanner, or for the usually silent Apple's lengthy explanation on the matter.

Apple reconfirmed for the WSJ that your fingerprint scans get stored in the processor, sandboxed in the phone itself, and never reach Apple's servers or iCloud in any way. Moreover, for now this new and effortless method of biometric authentication is indeed off-limits for all 3rd party developers, even the grand names.

In addition, you have to build one more security layer to complement the fingerprint identification method - a good old password will be asked of you if the phone is rebooted, or hasn't been unlocked for two days, in order to stall any time-sensitive tactics by a thief or a hacker. Your finger won't work then, only after the password has been entered you will be able to press your thumb against the home key and unlock the iPhone 5s.

The fingerprint unlock won't work properly also if you have your fingers sweaty, greasy, or have scars and cuts, added Apple, based on numerous testing scenarios it did with the Touch ID scanner, so just use a dry digit with uninterrupted fingerprint. Since the print is encrypted on the phone itself, the NSA also can't send one of those sneaky letters to Apple requesting his or hers fingerprints either, it seems, which is a relief this day and age.

source: WSJ

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81 Comments

1. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

"Since the print is encrypted on the phone itself, the NSA also can't sent one of those sneaky letters to Apple requesting his or hers fingerprints either..." Don't trust.

4. msa1988

Posts: 418; Member since: Mar 30, 2010

Yeah right. I'll believe this as much as I believed the goverment wasnt spying on our social media and cell phone accounts.

6. Chaseism

Posts: 82; Member since: May 08, 2013

Well remember that we allowed the government to pass the Patriot Act among other laws that made it legal for them to spy. If you only found this out because of Eric Snowden, then you really need to pay more attention to your politics.

11. night_elf

Posts: 51; Member since: Apr 02, 2013

Edward* Snowden

39. Chaseism

Posts: 82; Member since: May 08, 2013

Thanks night_elf. I keep calling him Eric...

13. Googler

Posts: 813; Member since: Jun 10, 2013

Amen to that. Simple truth is the NSA doesn't need your fingerprints, they already have files on all their citizens that contain far more information than if you have an arch, swirl or loop print pattern on your thumb.

18. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

But by fingerprints you can exactly know who is using the phone.

21. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

Let's say that you bought the phone and use prepaid SIM so basicaly no one knows who are behind the phone. But now by fingerprints they can easely find you.

55. Sauce unregistered

People who use prepaid SIMs are the same smart people who will professionally dispose of the phone right after.

60. sniper1087

Posts: 537; Member since: Dec 31, 2011

They explained this already, the fingerprints are stored n your phone, not on their servers, and the information is encrypted, noone has access to the fingerprints but you, anyhow it doesnt matter still waiting for the xperia Z1, but no release date yet negrielectronics mentioned sept 20 but at a really high price, even for an unlocked device.

75. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

Seems that you don't understand whoe idea...

79. pelliot

Posts: 1; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

Not only that; since the print read on the iphone uses skin resistance, they could probably use it in a similar fashion to a lie detector machine. Over time and usage they could build a profile based on skin resistance that could reveal what your emotional state is at the time you unlock your phone, based on the skin resistance data, and the tone of the communication you have afterwards. Google this: "Personal Digital Privacy and Wireless Network Devices in a Vehicle" this company ahh.biz posted a public service announcement about this stuff, there is some pretty good tips here about minimizing your exposure to NSA surveillance by choosing devices that are designed properly from a privacy standpoint.

30. Daftama

Posts: 641; Member since: Nov 03, 2012

What about the ones they don't have

38. Zeus.k unregistered

Good point. +1. P. S. You changed your account Jeff.?

10. darkkjedii

Posts: 31053; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Why because its apple, and not google? Can you please elaborate as to why you don't trust it.

12. night_elf

Posts: 51; Member since: Apr 02, 2013

It's not about google or Apple, it's about they are forced by law to lie when the NSA asks them to.

27. darkkjedii

Posts: 31053; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

With you it's not google or apple, and I respect your post. I'd love an explanation from PAU though. +1

31. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

Because in my opinion there is no reasons to trust and there is reasons not to trust.

36. darkkjedii

Posts: 31053; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

That's not elaboration PAU, that's generalizing, but ok.

41. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Here is something to consider: Since Apple has sandboxed the fingerprint scanner, there is no way to truly (aka objectively) know what is happening with your fingerprint scans. Apple says the fingerprint scans are only stored locally on the device. And since device data is encrypted on the device at AES256-level security, everything should be secure, right? The only problem I have with that concept is the fact that NSA has bent the process of standard-setting to enable it to be able to crack encryption that conforms to the latest standards. For example, the AES256 standard is not the hardest to crack. There was another finalist that was not selected because it was allegedly more secure than AES256.... The only way to separate fact from fairy tale, is to be a cryptanalyst, and those folks are by-and-large working for NSA. Fox guarding the henhouse, and what not. Better to just have no expectation of security/privacy. Then you won't be disappointed.

63. darkkjedii

Posts: 31053; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Now that is an explanation dude. Well said, and agreed with. +1

76. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

There is other way. ;)

56. Sauce unregistered

Dark I can't wait to read the praise and excitement when Samsung and others release a phone with a fingerprint reader. The conversations will completely turn around and everything will be just dandy lol.

64. darkkjedii

Posts: 31053; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Yep sauce you are spot on right. Everything will be cool then with the Sammites. +1

77. taz89

Posts: 2014; Member since: May 03, 2011

When moto atrix had a finger print scanner not a huge deal was made because it was pre NSA and prism stuff but since then anything to do with security will now get big eyeballs as the NSA stuff has brought security to the fore front for a lot of non techies too which is why I think a lot of phones will have it soon and not because apple have it. The one Max is pretty much guaranteed and note 3 from earlier leaks had it in the pipeline but decided against it, my guess they going to leave that for the s5 as a USP. Am all for finger print but I want it to work 99% of the time. Apple seem to have done well but looks like people who use lotions and body oil etc might have issues. Hopefully you don't need totally dry skin.

50. Long1

Posts: 399; Member since: May 18, 2013

As them , why Apple don't give developers access to the scaner, then? LOL

17. illusionmist

Posts: 157; Member since: Jan 29, 2013

Allow me to quote David Pogue of NY Times here: "Furthermore, if you’re convinced that Apple is lying and the world is out to get you, why aren’t you equally worried about using a login password? How do you know Apple’s not transmitting that to the N.S.A., too? If that’s your worry, I submit that you have much greater worries. You must also worry that Verizon is listening in to your phone calls, Visa is laughing its head off at your purchases, and Garmin is tracking your road trips on a map somewhere."

33. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

"...aren’t you equally worried about using a login password? How do you know Apple’s not transmitting that to the N.S.A., too?" I don't know.

42. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

And Apple is prohibited (by law) from telling you they have provided your data to the NSA.

47. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

A login password is not traced back to me. Passwords can change, fingerprints can't. If David can't see the difference there, he's quite sortsighted. And yes I do worry sometimes what all those companies ergo NSA knows about people.

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