Could The iPhone 5S Fingerprint Scanner Be Hacked?

10/09/2013 11:24 | Updated 10 November 2013

Apple will announce its new iPhone 5S later on Tuesday, and if rumours are correct it will add a fingerprint sensor to the device - allowing you and only you to easily unlock your phone.

What could go wrong?

Well, given that like other smartphones the iPhone already tracks your whereabouts, has access to your personal data and is potentially hackable by outside forces, potentially quite a bit.

Why is why several tech writers are asking ahead of the launch whether the fingerprint sensor could be hacked - and whether it might be more trouble than it's worth.

Over at Slashgear, there is evidence both that the sensor is real - and that it is less hackable than you might fear. The key difference between this and early implementations of similar tech is that the processing is not done on the main CPU. Leaked parts pictures of the home button indicate it has a separate mini-computer onboard to decide if you are really you - and that increases security.

Wired also asks if the sensor could be hacked, and starts by sensibly pointing out that until we know exactly how the Apple sensor works, what it looks for and how it stores that data we won't know how vulnerable it could be to an attack.

"But, honestly, if some bad guy has your iPhone and your fingerprint, you've probably got bigger problems to worry about."

However he adds that if there is a centralised database of fingerprints stored inside Apple, that will be a more serious issue. But again, that seems unlikely.

FastCompany writes that the risk is probably worth taking for Apple. The scanner "would put Apple on the cutting edge of an emerging new technology" especially in the enterprise market. But it also raises the stakes.

"Because the company is likely banking on biometric identification, it also has a vested interest in making sure that it is, indeed, secure."

Check back here at 6PM UK time to find out what kind of scanner Apple does implement - and how secure it really is.

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