Apple Fingerprint Hacked: New iPhone 5s Scanner Quickly Bypassed

Monday, 23 Sep 2013 10:58 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Apple's fingerprint technology has been bypassed by German hackers just two days after the new iPhone 5S was released, despite assurances from the software giant that it was more secure than previous versions of fingerprint technology.

The Berlin-based Chaos Computer Club (CCC) accomplished the feat by combining household products with a bit of ingenuity to create a thin latex sheet that included a fingerprint lifted from a person's phone which they then copied and used essentially as a key to gain access to the device.

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First the hackers took a high-resolution photograph of a fingerprint from the phone's glass face. That photo was then scanned and printed onto a transparent sheet that after being covered in wood glue was dried, leaving the hacker with a replicated latex fingerprint of the iPhone user, Britain's Daily Mail reported.

The final step involves the hacker breathing on the dried latex sheet "to make it a tiny bit moist" before pressing it onto the phone's sensor and gaining access to the device, a German hacker named Starbug, who was responsible for the feat, explained to the Daily Mail.

"In reality, Apple's sensor has just a higher resolution compared to the sensors so far," Starbug said. "So we only needed to ramp up the resolution of our fake."

Starbug was reacting to the claim from Apple that its TouchID fingerprint technology was "much more secure than previous fingerprint technology," the Daily Mail reported.

"As we have said now for ... years, fingerprints should not be used to secure anything," Starbug added. "You leave them everywhere, and it is far too easy to make fake fingers out of lifted prints."

This isn't the first time the CCC has shown how to get around fingerprint technology, having in 2004 uploaded a video showing how the hackers used household goods to produce the latex fingerprints and access so-called "secure" devices protected by fingerprint technology.

"We hope that this finally puts to rest the illusions people have about fingerprint biometrics," CCC spokesperson Frank Rieger said. "It is plain stupid to use something that you can't change and that you leave everywhere every day as a security token."

"The public should no longer be fooled by the biometrics industry with false security claims," Rieger added. "Biometrics is fundamentally a technology designed for oppression and control, not for securing everyday device access."

Apple has yet to react to the apparent successful hack job on its new iPhone 5s.

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Related stories:

iPhone Fingerprint Scanner: Apple Unveiling To Clarify 5S Rumors

New iPhone Fingers Security With Prints Over Passcodes

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