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iPhone 5S Touch ID hacked by fake fingerprints

Hackers claim to have beaten Apple's Touch ID fingerprint security already, using movie-style fake fingerprints to break into the iPhone 5S.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Expertise Films, TV, Movies, Television, Technology
Richard Trenholm
2 min read
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Hackers claim to have beaten Apple's Touch ID fingerprint security already, using movie-style fake fingerprints to break into the iPhone 5S.

The iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C went on sale last week, and have already seen a number of security problems.

To crack the 5S, hackers from the Chaos Computer Club lift a fingerprint from glass or glossy surface, dusting it with graphite and photographing it at a high resolution 2,400 pixels per inch. The duplicitous loops and whorls are printed at 1,200ppi onto film, coated with latex milk or wood glue, breathed on to moisten it, and placed over the home button containing the scanner. When pressed by someone else's finger, the scanner mistakenly recognises the fake fingerprint and unlocks the phone. Here's a video of the results:

"Fingerprints should not be used to secure anything," say the fast-fingered fakers. "You leave them everywhere, and it is far too easy to make fake fingers out of lifted prints."

A bug in Apple's new iOS 7 software allows wrong'uns to bypass a locked screen, but software issues can at least be solved by future updates; hardware issues are more troublesome.

The new iPhone is supposed to be so secure that police officers in New York are handing out flyers outside subway stations recommending Apple-owning Gothamites to update to iOS 7 as soon as possible.

At least you should be able to deter all but the most determined tea leaves with a passcode, and you can protect yourself by insuring your phone too. And you can give the police the best chance to recover your phone or other valuables should the worst happen by registering with national database Immobilise. Don't forget to keep a note of your IMEI number too, which you'll need to report your phone lost or stolen -- you'll find it printed on the battery and on the box; or in Settings; in iTunes; or by typing in *#06#.

If you're planning to bag yourself a new iPhone, don't forget to check out our handy comparison of the best deals and prices for the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C.

Are you concerned about the iPhone's security issues? Is any phone truly secure? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.