iPhone 5S: Fingerprint v Passcode

iOS has always given the user a choice of protecting an Apple iPhone, iPad or iPod device via a password, or passcode in Apple-speak. Apparently, Apple has discovered that only half of all iPhone users set up lock-screen passcodes. In an approach to make security more convenient, the new iPhone 5S introduces the world to Touch ID, a sensor used to unlock the phone using a fingerprint.

Touch ID is built right into the iPhone 5S Home button. When a finger is pressed on the Home button, the TouchID sensor reads the fingerprint and unlocks the phone if it recognises it. In addition to this, TouchID can be used to authorise purchases from the iTunes, App, and iBooks Stores.

Touch ID can read a fingerprint from any direction which means that, no matter which way round it is presented, the iPhone reads the fingerprint and identifies the user. Touch ID can be programmed to recognise up to five different fingerprints, which could be from five different users if you so chose. Stored fingerprint data is kept only on the phone not online.

You use Touch ID or a typed passcode on your iPhone 5S to protect it and the data on it. Each time you switch it on or wake it up, it will ask you for a passcode (numeric or fingerprint) before you can access it. Once security protection is activated, you will be asked for a fingerprint or passcode whenever you:

• Turn on or restart the device;
• Wake the device up; or
• Unlock the screen.

You can specify how long the screen must be locked before you have to enter a passcode to gain access again.

Does this mean that Touch ID removes the need for a normal passcode? In a word, no.
In order to configure Touch ID on your iPhone 5S, you must first set up a normal passcode. Touch ID is meant to minimise the need to enter a passcode, but a passcode is needed first because it is used as a security measure when adding a new fingerprint to the TouchID database. You HAVE to remember the passcode even if you never type it in again but always use Touch ID to unlock the phone.

Is Touch ID safer than a normal passcode?

If your iPhone is stolen, how might a thief get your fingerprints? It isn’t necessarily difficult because the phone will usually be covered with its owner’s fingerprints. There are several methods, described online, for lifting a print and using it to fool fingerprint readers. Apple claims that Touch ID’s test includes a method of sensing “sub-epidermal skin layers.” It still remains to be seen if Apple’s Touch ID includes enough test sensors to rule out advanced fingerprint spoofing.

Returning to the conventional passcode, you might think that all you can use is a simple code of four numbers or digits. However, you can disable the “simple” passcode restriction and enter a longer one which includes alphabetical characters. This makes the passcode much harder to break and much more secure. Remember, though, that you’ll need to enter it whenever the phone needs unlocking.

You have to weigh up your concerns about your phone and data security with ease of use. You might choose NOT to secure your phone. After all, if the phone is mislaid and it contains critical data, you can perform a “remote wipe” to delete everything on it. But… How much time will it take for a thief to download the phone’s contents before you even know it’s missing from your pocket?

As a minimum, then, you SHOULD use Touch ID to secure your phone from casual opportunists. For improved security, use a complex passcode instead of Touch ID.

Author Bio: - Elicia Robert is an IT trainer and teaching in an institute in Melbourne name Logitrain. Logitrain is providing IT training with job guarantee in Australia. If you need more information read logitrain reviews.

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