Our personal information is incredibly important to us. In a world where a large majority of our personal information is available for anyone to view online, we can take solace in knowing that we can still store our most private memories and data in our smartphones. Until now. Recent reports claim that the fingerprint sensors on several popular smartphones are not as secure as we once believed.
Made popular by Apple’s iPhone 5S, the fingerprint scanner made what was once thought to be mere science fiction a reality. Today’s smartphone fingerprint scanner works by scanning a previously stored fingerprint and unlocking the smartphone at a moment’s notice. It added a much needed layer of security that left consumers feeling more secure about their personal information.
Unfortunately, the scanners can be easily tricked. A recent report from The New York Times, claims that researchers from New York University and Michigan State University can be bypassed by faux fingerprints. These fake prints are in essence a digital collage of common attributes found in fingerprints. The studies found that a series of “Master Prints” created by the researchers fooled the smartphone’s fingerprint scanners a whopping 65% of the time.
When asked by the Times as to whether or not consumers should worry, Apple stated that the chances of a false scan occurring are 1 in 50,000. The multibillion dollar company even claims that they had tested for false scans when developing their Touch ID system.
What makes the situation even more frightening is the sheer amount of information kept in our smartphones. Not only do we keep our photos, personal files and passwords tucked neatly in our phones, some of us even use the popular Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or Android Pay feature, which stores your credit card information directly on the phone. If a hacker can manage to weasel their way into your device, all of that information is at risk.
However, some researchers claim that the findings may not necessarily be reason to panic, yet. In the article, Andy Adler, a professor at Carleton University in Canada stated, “It’s almost certainly not as worrisome as presented, but it’s almost certainly pretty darn bad.”
My advice to any of you out there worried about hackers getting into your most sensitive data, would be to remove the fingerprint functionality altogether. Stick with the traditional method of typing a password.