Tuesday, October 8, 2013

How to Stop the NSA from getting your IPhone Finger Prints

In light of the leaked NSA documents (and slideshows) of 2013, it appears that Apple device users are a primary target of the NSA. If you would rather not have the NSA snooping on your fingerprints, then this post is for you.

The new IPhone 5s series has finger print reading technology built into them. To unlock your phone, press your finger on the home button, and it will scan your finger, then unlock your phone.

If your response is, "But I don't use the finger print lock", then continue reading to know why you're still susceptible.

Some people will say that Apple put a finger print scanner in the phone specifically because Apple wants to help the NSA to spy on you. Personally, I dislike Apple as a company, but I wouldn't go that far. I don't honestly think Apple has a "we must help the NSA" agenda. I tend to view the government as more of a bully to companies, rather than an ally.

In any case, we do know that Apple (among many companies) is giving the NSA a backdoor to customer information. Is Apple keeping a database of finger prints? Well probably not (yet). If we assume no, then for most people reading this, it may not be too late to protect yourself.

For those who don't use finger print lock, don't be so quick to think you're in the clear. It would be trivial for the NSA have Apple install a backdoor in your phone to scan your print without any scanning notification. A Silent Scan. The backdoor process would silently scan your finger when you simply pressed it for viewing the home screen. Is it unlikely? Maybe. Is it possible? Definitely.

If you've already saved your finger print into your phone, then erasing it is not good enough. You need to change it. Give it bogus information. Figure out a way to set it to something else. Here are some options that might work.
  1. Replace it with your dogs/cats paw print.
  2. Replace it with a scan of the ball or heel of your foot.
  3. Borrow a random stranger for a few minutes and save in their pinky finger print.
After that, obviously you need to disable the finger print lock.

Still this doesn't protect you from a possible Silent Scan, and it could happen to you or anyone who uses your phone. You can protect yourself from a Silent Scan relatively easily. Here are two simple ideas.
  1. Put a sticker or masking tape over the finger print scanner.
  2. Use your finger knuckle to press the home button.

Congratulations on making your device a little more secure. Obviously this only plugs a single hole in Apple device security, but every step counts. Readers may also be interested in learning about the vastly more secure mobile device operating  system Cyanogemod. Due to it's open source software, it is currently one of the most secure smartphone operating systems available. (Note- Cyanogenmod is only available for installation on Android devices.)

Comment or email your feedback to sepero 111 @ gmx . com