Apple wants your fingerprints on file

Apple's purchase of fingerprint tech company AuthenTec means biometric readers could soon be standard on mobile devices. That's both good news and bad.


Let’s assume Apple (or whoever) solves all these problems. The biggest security problem with  biometrics is where the matching information is stored.  Somewhere there needs to be a database that matches up your fingerprint (or voice print, facial ID, iris scan, gait analysis, etc) with your name and other personal information. If someone hacks that database, they can theoretically swap someone else's name or biometric signatures in place of yours – completely bollixing your identity in a way that would be difficult if not impossible to recover from. So biometric data is only as secure as the database in which it is stored.

The other big problem with biometrics is the same one that comes from any kind of data retention: Once your fingerprint is captured, who else has access to it? Will that data remain local, or will it be stored in the cloud? Who’s responsible for it? By giving your thumbprint to your iPad, are you also effectively giving it to Uncle Sam, if he shows up at the manufacturer’s door with a warrant?

In short: Who owns your fingers?

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