Are You Afraid The NSA Will Steal iPhone Fingerprint Data? [Poll]

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The iPhone 5S’s new TouchID looks incredible and will surely be handy in saving time and keeping passwords out of your mind, but should we be worried that the NSA and other organizations will steal Touch ID data for far more nefarious purposes?

Phil Schiller reassured the crowd this morning that all fingerprint data is encrypted, and secured inside a secure enclave. It’s never available to other software. It’s never uploaded to Apple’s servers or backed up to iCloud. But still, this is the NSA we’re talking about. What do you guys think? Vote in our poll and let us hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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  • Gregory Wright

    C’mon, do you have to get people riled. A simple rudimentary investigation can turn up a person fingerprints. There is no need to extract them from some company data storage server.

  • elcaballeroquediceni

    I expect that Apple is not going to store any actual fingerprint information. It should be more like a checksum that can be compared to readings from the sensor. It would be useless for “reconstructing” your fingerprints or anything like that.

  • JrmFig

    According to their information the fingerprint are only stored in a special part of the A7. Nowhere else. No apple servers, no iCloud, etc. Only on that A7 area. Let’s see where it takes us…

  • Skywaytraffic

    This is such linkbait. Calm down.

  • StevenSaidWhat

    If it’s on the phone, Apple has access to it. Period. We’ll hear the “shocking” revelations in a few months or a year that Apple shared the information with the NSA/other-federal-agency and go through the expected shock-then-disinterest act that always follows such revelations. And of course Apple, like every other company with access to your private information, will never give us a straight answer.

    But I agree with Gregory Wright in an earlier comment: if you know where I live or work, which is as common knowledge as possible, then you can extract my fingerprint data. I’m going to choose not to live in a world where I refuse to embrace technology on the off chance that some random federal agency will have access to it. Because if they really really want you, they won’t give two shits about fingerprints or text messages or email – you’ll just disappear. It’s that kind of world, so we may as well live in it.

  • joetavormina

    When passwords are hacked, one usually gets a notification to change the password. I guess you can change your fingerprint ten times, after that hackers will have access to your info until you get a new set of hands.

  • kevin13769

    Well i see it as very simple, if it is locked into the chip, and nothing apart from the OS is given access, then any attempt into the device without a warrant to obtain the information would in fact be unlawful. I know this is the NSA and they can access your info already and all that, but to actually go into a device for something, while they may well be able to do this in the future, is still something that does not worry me. Also i live in Norway, where the privacy laws are very different, and it would simply cause an outrage to the point where if push came to shove, they could probably derail the american government very easily with there financial clout…!!! I mean they own so much of the american tech sector anyway, they could easily just crash the US economy…!!! So go ahead NSA, try and get the stuff out of an iPhone over here… I dare you… ;)

  • me_JaredRogers

    If the NSA wants your fingerprint wouldn’t it be easier for them to pull it off the door knob of your front door or the handle of your car when you aren’t around. The time and effort it would take to pull the fingerprint info out of the hardware of your phone and then decrypt it would be a waste of their time. If you are afraid of someone stealing your fingerprint don’t touch anything for the rest of your life and dawn your foil cap.

  • CoyoteDen

    I’m not so worried the NSA, law enforcement, or anything not on my phone is going to steal the data, but watch out once a jailbreak for iOS 7 is released! The “secure enclave” of the A7 chip may be accessible to stuff running as root, and that includes JB apps.

    If Apple did it the right way, only Touch ID can access it, using a signature generated at activation from an Apple-controlled private key, a hash of the Touch ID binary, the phone’s UDID and probably some randomness. The A7 chip has the public half of the key. If anything else tries to access the enclave or tamper with the Touch ID binary, it just won’t work.

    That said, a fingerprint by itself isn’t all that sensitive. You leave them everywhere. Anyone who wants your fingerprints can get them through far easier methods than hacking your phone. The reason the fingerprint data needs to be secured so well in the phone is because it is being used as the master key to that phone and the passwords on it.

About the author

Buster HeinBuster Hein is Cult of Mac's Social Media Editor. Hailing from Roswell, New Mexico, but now spending his days in Phoenix, Arizona, he wastes most of his time eating burritos and reading Spanish romance novels. Twitter: @bst3r.

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