The New iPhone Fingerprint Sensor is Hackable

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When Apple unveiled its new iPhone two weeks ago, one of the immediate questions concerned the phone's new fingerprint sensor. The sensor's supposed to automate security. Rather than typing in a password every time you unlock your phone, you just press your finger to the phone's home button. It's supposed to create a world wherein stolen iPhones are useless to thieves. But does it actually work? 

This weekend, a group of hackers called the Chaos Computer Club posted a video showing themselves hacking the iPhones fingerprint security, just two days after the phone was officially released. 


In the video, the hackers photograph a fingerprint from a glass surface, and then print out a copy of the print out on a thin film. Because the iPhone's sensor depends on essentially taking a high resolution photo of your fingerprint, a fake fingerprint printed at a sufficiently high resolution does the job just as well. 

So yes. There is a circumstance in which a highly motivated hacker can recreate your fingerprint and break into your phone. That said, Apple's sensor can be vulnerable to this kind of hack and still be fairly good security. If the main purpose of a locked phone is to keep out a snooping friend, or a thief with merely human levels of tech aptitude, then the system still works. Whether you trust Apple with your fingerprints, of course, is another story entirely.