iPhone 5s with Touch ID is a big win for BYOD security
Apple takes security on the iPhone 5s to the next level by adding a new Touch ID architecture that incorporates a fingerprint reader directly onto the device. This will please both enterprise users and IT admins managing BYOD.
Apple's iPhone 5c/5s unveiling event is over and there's a lot of information to digest. But one feature present on the iPhone 5s (which, from September 20 will be Apple's flagship iPhone) really stood out – the Touch ID fingerprint reader.
While consumers will undoubtedly benefit from the ease and convenience of using a fingerprint reader as opposed to having to tap in their passcode to unload their iPhones, the real market that benefits from this are enterprise buyers and BYOD.
IT admins are always worried about security (or at least they should be), and while the iPhone, like its Android counterparts, allows for remote wiping of devices, biometric protection takes iPhone security to the next level. No more having to worry that about someone watching over your shoulder when you enter your passcode because with the iPhone 5s passcodes will become a thing of the past.
Consumers who regularly hand their iPhones to kids will also find the added protection that Touch ID offers them when it comes to in-app purchases reassuring. You can hand your shiny new iPhone 5s to little Timmy or Jane happy in the knowledge that they can't cripple you by blowing away thousands of dollars on in-app purchases.
Touch ID will also bring two-factor authentication to the iPhone, combining something you know – a passcode – with something you have – your fingerprint – to dramatically boost security. This puts an extra level of security between users and the corporate network for enterprise and BYOD users.
Touch ID also makes security easier. According to Apple about half of iPhone users don't bother with passcodes, and this means that the iPhone is low-hanging fruit for thieves looking for a device that allows them to make a quick few bucks. Adding fingerprint authentication, along with the new features in iOS 7 that tie an iPhone to a specific Apple ID in such a way that it can survive a total wipe, means that the iPhone 5s will be far less attractive to rogues and miscreants.
iPhone crime is hitting epidemic proportions, and it's clear that Apple is taking steps to bring this under control.
But it's not all smiles. Because Touch ID is only available on the flagship iPhone 5s, Apple is putting a premium price tag on biometric security. Users of the lower-priced iPhone 5c are left out in the cold when it comes to Touch ID, which is a shame, but given that not much separates the iPhone 5c from the 5s in real, on the ground terms, Apple had to draw the feature line somewhere.
You can have biometric security, but it'll cost you.