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Apple added the fingerprint scanner as a security boost for its flagship device, and a biometric lock is what could straddle the line between convenience and security for many consumers.
The scanner on Apple's new phone is a capacitance scanner. Rather than using the electro-optical method to capture and record a fingerprint, which produces an image, Apple's scanner uses capaciative cells and conductor plates to create feedback that generates a code.
For the iPhone 5S, fingerprint ridges cause tiny plates to contact and close a circuit and generating current. Apple's software reads the energy of each cell to select which one is under a ridge and which is under a valley.
After the print is read and code is generated, it's sent to Apple's encrypted microprocessor.
An Apple spokesperson addressed widespread concerns about the security of such a feature when commenting to the Wall Street Journal last Wednesday, saying that Apple’s new Touch ID system only stores “fingerprint data,” which remains encrypted within the iPhone’s processor.
It is undetermined if the biometric data is encrypted before being sent to the microprocessor. At this time, Apple is not allowing third-party apps access to the fingerprint scanner's data.
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