Smartphone Fingerprint Scans : Not So Secure

One of the first things we do whenever we buy a new cell phone is sync our biometrics onto it. Be it the Facial ID feature on the iPhone or the simple yet highly effective Fingerprint ID.

Scanning technology on a smartphone is not anything new. In particular has become so common that it is no longer reserved for high end smartphones. In fact, even reasonably priced mid-range phones now boast of this additional security hardware. This technology has become so mainstream that we have started to take it for granted. We just assume that this feature will be at our disposal. It has made logging into our devices easy-peasy.

But, we need to keep in mind one reality. The market value of our data has increased. Agencies such as Cambridge Analytica and Facebook has manipulated it to achieve their ends. In such situations, it becomes necessary to question everything and ensure one’s data protection and pay special attention on its safety and security. In such uncertain Data mining times, have we ever stopped to wonder what if these biometric scans are what are compromising our security?

A Twin Edged Sword: Fingerprint Scanning

Below mentioned examples are a glimpse into ways technology is exploited. The other end of the spectrum that leaves it to us to decide how we want to use technology.

Imagine a scenario, wherein one is walking down an alley in the night on the way home back from work and one is attacked by group of hooligans. All they needed to do was over power the victim for a mere minute, where in they can easily unlock the phone by scanning the finger against the scanner. Once the hooligans have gained access inside your phone, they can easily use it to transfer data, and funds. On the flip side, this technology can also be misused after one’s death! In a rather sad case, it was reported in the press, that a wanted fugitive who had expired in a shootout, had quite an unexpected brush with technology.

One of the ‘evidence’ that came to the police’s hands after his death was his smartphone. Ignoring all protocol and by stating that the dead have no right to digital privacy, 2 cops went to the funeral parlour and logged into the dead person’s smart phone by using the fingerprints of the dead victim. Technically, this is allowed by the court of law!

Smartphones are getting increasingly powerful whereas computing devices are becoming more compact. Many factors have been introduced by developers that ensure the user experience and the security of the smartphones and its contents reaches a level above average.

In life or in death, technological footprint has managed to leave its mark.

Go Traditional: Bid Adieu To Fingerprint Scanning for TRUE Security

At the time of first logging in your details onto a smartphone, the device takes multiple scans of your finger from different sides and angles. Due to this, it only needs to read one part or zone of the finger print for matching purposes and it unlocks the device. (If Hollywood is to be believed, it is very easy to copy a partial print of one’s prints on a masking tape or even a good quality cello tape. Don’t let the Charlie’s Angels get to you!)

In order to really make sure that hackers or thieves can’t log in to your device easily, follow the age-old advice of KISS (Keep It Simple Silly) instead of sensors, use passcodes instead. But, here too, a word of caution is advised.

Renowned cryptographer Matthew Green of Johns Hopkins, believes that 4 to 6-digit passcodes can be easily cracked. He tweeted the following.


Guess the best passcode of all time is Alphanumeric in nature.

In Conclusion: Be Smart! Not Rely On A Smart Device

Technology has been created as a tool for us to achieve our means. Simply because is available to us does not mean that we should avail it. Not at the cost of compromising digital safety, data and fund theft! Typing long passcodes is time consuming and painstaking task, but, it is incredibly strong. Be Smart. Don’t just depend on your device to be smart! By keeping access to our data and its contents and our funds under a 10+ digit passcode, we can make the life of hackers very difficult!

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