Inside Apple’s iPhone 5s Touch ID Security
The inclusion of the Touch ID fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 5s may position Apple as the default choice for businesses and government agencies looking to provide employees with smartphones, while also maintaining high levels of security.
In recent years, Apple’s iOS platform has excelled in enterprise adoption. But government and business markets, which were once dominated by BlackBerry, remain very much in flux.
With BlackBerry now on the way out, the smartphone market has turned into what is essentially a two-horse race between Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. But Android is also home to an overwhelming majority of mobile malware that can steal information and potentially make corporate phones vulnerable to nefarious attackers.
Android malware has become such a concern among businesses and governments that the leading Android smartphone vendor, Samsung, has added its own security layer to the platform, dubbed “Safe for Enterprise,” in an effort to make its handsets more appealing to businesses.
Apple, meanwhile, has routinely noted that almost all Fortune 500 companies are testing or deploying the iPhone. The company’s smartphone lineup also represents the majority of activations among small businesses.
To that end, Apple has offered a number of security-conscious features on its iPhones that appeal to businesses, such as remote wipe and passcode expiration. The iPhone also has hardware encryption, and gives businesses the ability to personalize an employee’s iPhone, preventing them from installing unauthorized software from the App Store or updating to the latest version of iOS without company approval.
It’s common among businesses that provide their employees with iPhones that a lockscreen key combination must be entered to access the device. But while passwords offer an initial layer of security, a simple four-digit code can be easily viewed over a person’s shoulder as they unlock their device, representing a major security flaw.
Routine passcode entry is also a frustrating hassle for users who are likely to unlock and check their phone dozens of times per day. With a corporate phone mandating a lockscreen passcode, users can be required to enter the same four-digit code every single time they want to access their device.
Apple’s new Touch ID fingerprint scanner, which is exclusive to the iPhone 5s, aims to address these frustrations while at the same time providing even better security when accessing an iPhone. In this sense, Touch ID could prove to be a welcome addition among both corporations and government agencies, who want something more secure than a four-digit passcode, as well as their employees, who may be frustrated by repeated passcode entry.
In Apple’s words, it’s the “effortless” security offered by Touch ID that will make it an appealing feature for users of all types, both business and personal.
And the implications for Touch ID go well beyond business users. Assuming it works as advertised, Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint recognition technology may prove so reliable and quick that many other users will enable lockscreen security on their iPhone for the very first time, acting as a potential detriment to general iPhone theft.
But it’s enterprise customers in particular who may see the most to gain from Touch ID, with enhanced security that can ensure that only a trusted employee can access the device.
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Original article on appleinsider.com, written by Neil Hughes.