[FACT OR FAKE #19] iPhone 5S Fingerprint Scanner is The Best Security Feature for a Phone

The iPhone 5S has a fingerprint sensor dubbed Touch ID built into the home button. The sensor will allow users to use their fingerprints instead of a password to unlock the device and make purchases on iTunes. But is this the best security for a phone? Let's find out..

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First thing first, there's no such thing that says, 'POOF, you're secure!'

"One security measure does not mean that the device is secure or that the applications on the device are secure," said Scott Matsumoto. "There's no one thing you can do that says, 'POOF, you're secure!' Security is built up from a lot of small things."

iPhone 5S fingerprint sensor would scan your fingerprint and match it to a pre-defined image of your finger

Apple has embedded the fingerprint sensor directly into the iPhone's home button.

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What does fingerprint scanner do?

A fingerprint reader or sensor does what it says on the tin – it scans your fingerprint and matches it to a pre-defined image of your finger. Since every fingerprint is unique, the system can then securely verify your identity.

How does it do it?

Users must register their fingerprint on the device by touching it to the home button, where Apple has embedded the fingerprint sensor. The button itself is made of sapphire crystal, which is a hard glass-like material that protects the sensor and acts as a lens to focus in on your print.

There’s a steel ring around the button that detects your finger and prompts the sensor to read the unique ridges and patterns contained in your print. When the match is made, Touch ID automatically unlocks the phone.

But the fingerprint sensor in iPhone 5S is no silver bullet

The fingerprint sensor in Apple’s new iPhone 5S has the potential to enhance the security of the device, but its effectiveness will depend on the strength of the implementation and whether it’s used in conjunction with other security credentials

Fingerprint scanners have historically been susceptible to errors and replay attacks that involve stealing fingerprints and using them to trick the scanners by employing a variety of techniques.

Fingerprint technology is not a high-security feature, said Marc Rogers, principal security researcher at mobile security firm Lookout. That’s why most military installations, for example, use hand geometry or retina scanners instead, he said.

“It is possible to copy a fingerprint and I think that as the technology sees wider usage, the techniques of copying fingerprints will only improve,” the researcher said. However, a fingerprint is still better and more convenient than a four-digit PIN, he said.

Security expert warns thieves could go to extreme lengths to bypass the Touch ID

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Thieves could go as far as cutting off your finger to get access to the new iPhone 5S, which uses fingerprint technology as its new security.

Security experts warn that thieves in some regions have worked out that you can force a victim to unlock a secured device, and in some extreme cases have also mutilated victims in order to steal their fingerprint.

WATCH: Fingerprints busted

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