Can our fingerprints be hacked?

Touch ID: How secure is Apple's function?

Mobile security - biometrics

, Munich | Author: Herbert Wieler

How secure is the fingerprint?

What sounded futuristic just a few years ago is now a technological standard: unlocking devices with your fingerprint. Although other smartphone manufacturers now also use this method to some extent, the finger scan is particularly well-known among iPhone users. The so-called Touch ID is not only used to leave the lock screen, but can also be used to secure various apps. But how secure is the fingerprint really?

What is the Touch ID for?

Our smartphones and tablets contain a lot of sensitive data. Below you will not only find contacts to all of our friends and acquaintances, but also passwords or even bank details. If the device is stolen, it is the end of the world for many people. Then it is often necessary to block all bank and credit cards and, if possible, to deactivate the SIM card directly. There are also various options with which access to your own data can be blocked. Many people today use blocking patterns or numeric codes for this purpose, but Touch ID has been around for a few years now.

Since you can decrypt passwords with a certain software, many believe that the fingerprint, which is ultimately unique for every person and not so easily reproducible, is the most secure method. The Touch ID can not only secure the lock screen and thus lock all data on the smartphone or tablet again, but also individual apps. Banking apps in particular can thus be protected against misuse. In general, Touch-ID makes sense for all applications for which bank data had to be stored. Therefore z. For example, the PokerStars mobile app can be opened with Touch ID. Since you play with real money in the online casino, valuable bank details are stored here. The fingerprint provides additional protection from other pairs of eyes.

How secure is the fingerprint sensor?

Biometric data generally have a relatively high security factor, as there is only one fingerprint in the world. At the same time, some see the danger of leaving your fingerprints in hundreds of places every day and not being able to change them if you have been hacked. Once the fingerprint has been captured by a hacker, the sensor becomes unusable and you have to switch back to a code, pattern or password. However, it is not exactly easy to hack the fingerprint sensor. Not many have succeeded in this yet, but the Chaos Computer Club has already tried a successful fake fingerprint. To do this, however, the fingerprint must first be recorded, which is anything but easy. Hacking the biometric data online is virtually impossible because it is never saved as a graphic.

How well does Touch ID work?

In principle, Touch ID works relatively well and is seen by many experts as relatively secure. However, this is sometimes due to the fact that far too many people still use weak passwords such as “12345” or “Password”, although these have been discouraged for years. The fingerprint is complex for everyone, which means that this problem does not arise. However, what can be problematic is when the unlock doesn't work. The sensor is relatively sensitive and can strike under different conditions. Problems with identification can arise, especially if grease, dirt or dust cloud the sensor. In this case you should clean the sensor with a microfiber cloth, because if you try it several times and keep getting an error message, the device will be locked. This is particularly annoying with banking apps, for which you have to visit a bank branch after three failed attempts to unlock the app.

Normally, however, the Touch ID works relatively well and the technology has been continuously improved in recent years. In the meantime, it is also possible to activate the iPhone and iPad with a face scan, because here you have the advantage of biometric encryption again without the risk of interference from contamination of the sensor.

Experts consider Touch ID to be relatively secure, but it is still not unbreakable. Tests have already succeeded in creating a dummy thumb that can unlock a smartphone, but the hackers needed an imprint of the thumb to do this. The scenario is therefore relatively unlikely and you can rely on the Touch ID with great certainty.