How Tight Is Touch ID Security on the iPhone 5s?

After the iPhone 5s with a Touch ID sensor was released, hackers immediately began looking for vulnerabilities in the new feature. Hackers launched websites with the sole purpose of determining whether they could crack the Touch ID security feature. In late 2013, one hacker said that he did so by lifting a fingerprint using CSI-style chemicals and a special printing method that could replicate the lifted print on a piece of film, according to Lookout.

Though this method worked for the hacker, it isn’t very practical for everyday thieves. The equipment involved in duplicating and printing fingerprints costs more than $1,000 and the process itself can take days and requires an unblemished scan of the original user’s fingerprint. Beyond this costly hacking process, is Touch ID really a secure way to lock an iPhone? The short answer seems to be yes.

Apple Reveals How Touch ID Uses the iPhone 5s A7 Chip

Earlier this year, Apple released a technical document revealing just how the Touch ID keeps information secure. A big part of the Touch ID security system is how it works with the A7 chip in the iPhone. According to the document, “The A7 forwards the [fingerprint] data to the Secure Enclave but cannot read it. It’s encrypted and authenticated with a session key that is negotiated using the device’s shared key that is built into the Touch ID sensor and the Secure Enclave. The session key exchange uses AES key wrapping with both sides providing a random key that establishes the session key and uses AES-CCM transport encryption.”

Touch ID and Passcodes

As many iPhone 5s owners already know, the Touch ID sensor must be used in tandem with a regular passcode in several circumstances, including when an iPhone has been reported as lost or stolen via the “Find My iPhone” feature. This dual-authentication method helps add an extra layer of security to the iPhone 5s and makes it even less vulnerable to a data theft attack.

Though no security method is 100 percent foolproof, Touch ID security comes pretty close. With a fingerprint scanner that takes special skills and more than $1,000 to crack and a special encryption method that uses Apple’s A7 chip to create keys for storing and verifying fingerprint information, it is safe to say that Touch ID is the best mobile security currently available and should give iPhone 5s owners some peace of mind when it comes to preventing data theft.

Do you have Touch ID security enabled on your iPhone 5s?

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons