Touch ID

1. The First Hack and Update

Apple says they designed the iOS platform “with security at its core,” and the iPhone 5s released last September implemented a new security feature called the Touch ID Sensor. The Touch ID Sensor allows quicker access to the phone without having to enter a passcode so many times. However, if you’ve been following along since day one, the Touch ID was hacked within just a couple days using a fingerprint transfer on latex material to open the Lock screen. Apple security developers were on it right away and issued iOS 7.0.1 to fix the bug with the Touch ID Sensor on the 5s. That was two months ago.

2. The Second Hack and Security Update

Since then, three additional updates have been released for iOS 7. iOS 7.0.2 (released Sept. 26, 2013), fixed bugs that would allow someone to bypass the Lock screen passcode. Some of the methods, which included making an emergency call to ####, quickly hanging up, then using the power button and other combinations to access the Lock screen, only worked on early versions of the OS. The update also included a Greek keyboard option for entering the passcode.

3. The Charmer

The next release on Oct. 22, 7.0.3, included fixes for a long list of reported bugs. The update fixed additional bugs that allowed bypassing the Lock screen passcode. A fix specifically for the iPhone 5s set the Lock screen to delay the “slide to unlock” message when using Touch ID.

5. Nail in the Coffin

The last stable release issued on Nov. 14, 7.0.4, fixes insufficient authorization when purchasing Apps or through apps (in-App purchases), as well as fixes a problem some users had with making FaceTime calls.

6. More About iPhone Security

Without getting too deep into all of Apple’s security systems on the iPhone, here’s a few features you may find interesting. Apple’s iOS hardware encryption includes a dedicated AES 256-bit crypto engine that encrypts data at all times. Data stored on the flash memory is additionally secured using Data Protection technology, as well as Keychain Data Protection to secure passcodes, keys and login tokens. iMessage and FaceTime are more secure with the use of encrypted unique IDs for each user. And, iOS enables passcode expiration so users are asks to refresh their passcodes regularly.

In the next article we’ll talk specifically about how to improve security on the iPhone 5s. Remember, keeping your software up-to-date is the best way to make sure your 5s isn’t vulnerable to any known bugs & hacks. Although, one can never be sure when another hack might be found.

Keep an eye out on How to Make your iPhone 5s More Secure – it will post early next week.



Jeff Chabot

 
Jeff Chabot has a background in web development and design, as well as working in broadcast television as a studio engineer, lighting director and editor. He frequently writes about technology, broadcasting, digital entertainment, and the internet.