TouchID Won't Protect You, It Was Already Hacked
Article by George Norman
On 25 Sep 2013
If you thought the TouchID fingerprint scanner will protect your phone, I’m sad to say that you’re wrong. The fingerprint scanner has already been defeated.

On the 20th of September, the new iPhone 5S that features the TouchID fingerprint scanner went on sale. On the 21st of September, the Chaos Computer Club (CCC for short) announced that it defeated Apple’s TouchID. In just one day, and by using everyday means, the CCC’s Starbug managed to bypass TouchID.


TouchID is a built-in fingerprint identity sensor that lets you lock/unlock your iPhone 5S just by placing your finger on the Home button. There are several reasons why putting a fingerprint scanner in the Home button isn’t a very good idea: the scanner may not work properly, it raises privacy concerns, and it may be hacked.

Strike that! Before the launch of the iPhone 5S, I said that the TouchID fingerprint scanner may be hacked by people who have enough time and the right means at their disposal. Today, I have to rectify that statement: TouchID has already been hacked. The one to hack TouchID is the Chaos Computer Club’s Starbug. The amusing part is that in just one day, and by using everyday means, Apple’s fingerprint scanner was defeated.

"In reality, Apple's sensor has just a higher resolution compared to the sensors so far. So we only needed to ramp up the resolution of our fake", said Starbug. "As we have said now for more than years, fingerprints should not be used to secure anything. You leave them everywhere, and it is far too easy to make fake fingers out of lifted prints."

The videos below show how the TouchID fingerprint scanner can be bypassed.

An extended video that presents an alternative to the same hacking principle is available here.

How-to instructions on how to create a fake fingerprint are available online here.

Tags: Apple, iPHone 5S, TouchID, security, privacy, Chaos Computer Club, Starbug
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
You can follow him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter

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