Fingerprint Scanner on Your Phone

As the news about hacking continues to come in, we are increasingly becoming concerned about the privacy of our digital devices such as Smartphones. This will ensure that our private information stays safe and can’t be reached by hackers. Luckily, most Smartphone manufacturers are coming up with extra security options for smartphones. In fact, most Smartphones are currently being made with fingerprint scanning technology. But does it really work?

Unlocking a Smartphone
Since we have been using pins for many years, it’s very easy to remember them. Apart from pins, there are other ways that we can use to secure our phones. Although most experts agree that pins are the most secure, at times they can inconvenience us. For instance, it’s cumbersome if you have to unlock your phone using a pin several times a day. Here are some other options that you can use.
  • Fingerprint- While the design of your phone can make this method hard to use, it’s very fast hence you just need to adjust a bit to start using it.
  • Pattern- This method involves tracing a line through some dots. Although it’s convenient some people have claimed that it’s not that secure.
  • Face- This is the newest method that involves unlocking your phone using your face. This is less secure since other people have the same features as you. So they could easily use their faces to unlock your phone.
  • Iris- This process uses your phone’s sensors to identify you before unlocking it. While it’s a very secure process, it does not work well where there is low light. It also has trouble scanning through your glasses.

Fingerprint scanner technology
Fingerprint scanners have been considered high spy level for so many years, but in the recent times, they’ve become quite ubiquitous. However, they’ve been quite useful in the identity and the law enforcement departments. The scanning process usually begins when you put your finger on a glass plate and a CCD camera captures the image. The scanner has its own light used to illuminate the ridges of the finger. When an image has not been captured the scanner adjusts itself and tries to scan it again. For more details check out this link.

The scanner process usually ensures that there is a clear image and rejects the scan in case the image is too dark or too light. Instead of light, the capacitive scanners use electrical light. Every cell in their sensor has two conductor plates protected by an insulated layer. Their image is then amplified by the varying output and input voltage.

The most recent scanner is known as the ultrasound scanner. This hardware has both reliever and ultrasonic transmitter which transmit the pulse against the finger to be scanned. Rebound or absorption occurs depending on pores, ridges, and other fingerprint details. This provides a 3D technique that makes it more secure than other types of scanners.

Hacking fingerprints
One main worry for the general public is the ease of hacking the fingerprints. Although hacking fingerprints seems impossible, it’s not. It’s been reported before that it only took 5 minutes for a single person to fake fingerprints and broke into the phone. There are some hackers who use a 3D printed mold to create fingerprints from the stored details. So despite firewalls and security, fingerprints can still be stolen. As compared to the passcodes and pins, you cannot be able to change your fingerprint.

Currently, there is over 134 million fingerprint record between the department of defense and Homeland security. Although these records are usually used for verification, they could easily trigger a fingerprint printer. As more and more fingerprints are put in the database, some information might be leaked just like the passwords, credit card information, and social security numbers.

Smartphone scanners are, therefore, not as secure as we are made to believe. As a matter of fact, some researchers have created master fingerprints that can fool these sensors. Although full human fingerprints are hard to fake, most phones finger scanners only read partial fingerprints. According to Dr. Nasir Memon, if you could come up with a magic glove with master print, you could access up to 40 to 50 percent of smartphones within five tries.

Cell phone manufacturers are, therefore, looking into anti-spoofing techniques that can detect the real finger versus the fake one. Another way to lower this risk is to add a larger print sensor. Thankfully, some of the most recent options are not easy to hack. More so, when using more sensitive apps such as mobile payments you can simply turn off fingerprint authentification.

As we strive to boost the security of our devices, we are finding ways that are still far from the real thing. While fingerprint is one of the best options, it’s a bit risky. When you buy your next Smartphone you have a choice to go with the option that you believe is secure.

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