With all of the hype around Apple’s big week – and the simultaneous releases of the iOS 7 operating system, the iPhone 5C, and the iPhone 5S, perhaps the biggest single feature we saw from the tech giant this week was the much-hyped fingerprint scanner. In the eyes of many skeptics and consumers alike, the fingerprint scanner (newly implemented on the Home button of the 5S, in place of a slide-to-unlock or passcode phone entry) is a bit of a gimmick – a fun feature designed to pull in a few new customers simply through novelty. However, when you consider the security implications of an accurate fingerprint scanner, the feature takes on a whole new level of significance.
Until now, pretty much the only security we had in terms of gaining access to mobile phones was in the form of simple PINs and codes. Naturally setting your own code does provide a layer of security, but it’s a very basic one that can be easily noticed, stolen, and communicated to others.
In terms of more advanced security within a mobile phone, the best option has still always been to opt for an external provider for secure storage and file sharing. The Sharefile app, for example, is a popular choice for people concerned about safe storage and transfer of their mobile data.
Now, however, the fingerprint scanner is posing possible changes to mobile security across the board. In the early going, of course, the scanner has relatively simple functions. It can be used to access your phone, and to authenticate your identity for minor transactions, such as purchasing a song from iTunes or something similar. In the future, however, there is staggering potential for the fingerprint scanner’s practical use in security.
The most notable example is that many have speculated that the fingerprint scanner will make it easier for Apple to pair with various banks and payment systems to implement monetary transfer through mobile phones. Additionally, it’s quite easy to see the fingerprint scanner significantly improving the security of basic file sharing, storage and access, as it is essentially un-hackable!
In short, the details remain to be seen, and it seems highly likely that we’ve only seen the very beginnings of the fingerprint scanner’s application. However, among all of Apple’s exciting releases, this is probably the one that will have the most long-term effect on mobile security and the industry in general.