Can You Spoof the New iPhone 5s?

23 Sep Can You Spoof the New iPhone 5s?

A prize of more than $13,000 (£8,120) in cash, bitcoins and booze is being offered to the first hacker to crack the fingerprint scanner on Apple’s newly released iPhone 5S.

The contest is being run by a micro venture capital firm and a group of security researchers and requires the hacker who wins to the prize to “reliably and repeatedly break into an iPhone 5s by lifting prints (like from a beer mug)”, according to the website

Touch ID, the fingerprint scanner present on the more expensive of Apple’s two new iPhones, is supposed to make users’ personal details more secure and can also be used to make iTunes purchases. The scanner offers a 500 pixel-per-inch resolution and can read sub-epidermal skin layers, storing encrypted fingerprint data (although crucially not images of the prints themselves) locally on the phone’s chip, but doubts about how secure it is, are being expressed.

US Senator Al Franken, who is also Chairman of the Senate’s Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, has today written to Apple chief Tim Cook expressing his concern over the fingerprint scanner. He has given Apple a month to respond to his questions which include:

  • whether the fingerprint data stored locally on the mobile phone chip in encrypted form could ever be stolen and converted into a digital, or visual form, that would be usable by hackers or fraudsters;
  • whether the iPhone 5S transmits any diagnostic information about the Touch ID system back to Apple or any third parties;
  • how well customer fingerprint data will be protected and kept private;
  • the exact legal status of such fingerprint data.

Many bugs have been discovered by hackers across Apple’s product range, and the work done by these so-called “white hats” who report flaws back to the company help to make the tech we all use each day even more secure. A security flaw which allows anyone to bypass the lock screen of an iPhone running iOS7, which was released on 18 September, has already been discovered by a hacker. Apple has acknowledged the bug and is currently working on a fix.

As for the new iPhone and whether it is spoof proof, ievo highly doubt it. However, considering the fingerprint scanner is only used to gain access to the phone itself and into the App Store, does it really matter? It would be a whole different story if a hacker could gain access to your bank information in your apps.

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