The Finger

Alright, I wasn’t going to blog for awhile to give everyone a break from my voice, but I just have to do it. Check out this article on the Apple iPhone 5s Fooled By Fake Finger. Ok, so the finger print technology isn’t quite there yet, but to say in the 3rd paragraph that “Biometrics is fundamentally a technology designed for oppression and control, not for securing everyday device access,” is quite a leap into the anarchist void. [Quote is from Chaos Computer Club spokesman Frank Rieger.] I was looking forward to buying stuff with just a retinal scan instead of remembering my 1,497th password. What do you think? Biometrics will have some good uses, or it’s just a tool of The Man, subjugating the oppressed masses?

Under Someone's Thumb

STEM boulevardier; I’ve seen some things. I have a BS in Mech E (MIT), an MS in Mat Sci (JHU) and an MBA from UMaryland, College Park. I have been a business analyst at Software Engineering Professionals, Director for Research at the Indiana State Financial Aid agency, an analyst on the Johns Hopkins Beginning School Study, an analyst at the US Congress Office of Technology Assessment (RIP) and a Mech E at the National Institute for Standards and Technology, in automation and non-destructive testing.

Comments
  • David L. Inman

    In my crypo class at college one of the lessons that my professor reiterated over and over again was that security isn’t just an algorithm it’s a process and an infrastructure. Part of that infrastructure is key revocation. If your key gets compromised you need to be able to let the system know that the key is no longer trustworthy.

    Even if they get the technology working for biometric security, getting key revocation working without the need for invasive surgery seems unlikely.

    Of course, it does *look* really cool. And many people aren’t looking for a tool when they buy a mobile device they’re looking for a toy. So perhaps this feature is doing exactly what it is meant to do.

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  • Aaron Milam

    This is actually a very interesting topic. So much so that you inspired me to write a blog post in response. See it here.

  • Laurie Gavrin

    A few further thoughts: Whether I’m looking for a tool or a toy (confession: I just ordered a new iPhone 5S, in gold if you must know – my first ever smartphone), I am looking for some nice ways to deter theft. When I lock my house, I am only trying to deter a sort of lame thief. I don’t want to be the most vulnerable house on the block. A determined thief can still break a window. That is how I think of the fingerprint security on the iPhone. Between that and a Find-my-Phone app, I am hoping a potential thief will think that it is not worth it to steal my phone. You don’t have to outrun the lion, you just have to be a little faster than the guy running next to you.

  • Matt Terry

    I share your opinion, Laurie.

    Fingerprint access control is equivalent to our badges that we use to get in/out of the office – somewhere there is a list that says that your ID can unlock this door.

    The biggest difference between a badge and your fingerprint is that you _always_ have your fingerprint on you.

    This is “access control”.
    Apple does not advertise this TouchID feature as a “security feature”. It simply says you can unlock your phone faster and easier.

  • […] posting this as a response to my colleague’s blog post. Laurie asked whether biometrics as a security mechanism is actually […]

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