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U.S Sen. Franken seeks data on privacy controls in iPhone 5s fingerprint tech

Jaikumar Vijayan | Sept. 23, 2013
Lawmaker seeks answers to a list of 'substantial privacy questions' sent to Apple CEO Cook

John Zurawski, vice president at Authentify, a vendor of voice-based authentication tools, said questions like thosed posed by Franken should be asked of any vendor of biometric devices.

Biometrics does offer a secure layer of authentication, he noted. "The ability to reverse engineer a fingerprint from its encrypted digital form would be very labor intensive," and probably not worth the effort for cybercriminals he said.

"The average consumer's credit and identity information may not be worth the computational effort required to reverse engineer," he said.

"I think many of Senator Franken's questions hit important areas," added Joe Schumacher a security consultant with Neohapsis, a vendor of mobile and cloud security services. "It is important for the consumer to understand how Touch ID communicates with Apple regarding use of the service, diagnostic information and interaction with other Apple applications."

The fact that fingerprint data is stored locally on the iPhone is a good thing from a security and privacy perspective, Schumacher noted.

However, Apple must clarify how the sharing of fingerprint data will proceed when Apple rolls out the technology to other devices. "Biometric fingerprint technology is a great form of identification but not the best form for authentication, at least not by itself," he said.


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