Biometric security is one way that many people are looking to improve security of their information without having to generate increasing longer and more complicated passwords. The most common form or biometric security used is the fingerprint scanner. While they have existed for some time on laptops, they are now found on several popular smartphones. The use of fingerprint scanner security can be easier and more secure than a simple pin but they are not immune to hacking. Both the and biometric security can be circumvented by fake fingerprints. This is done by obtaining a clear image of the fingerprint and then creating a false fingerprint to pass over the sensor. While incidents of such hacking is going to be quite uncommon, there are some steps you can take to help improve the security when using a fingerprint scanner.
The Index Finger Problem
The big problem is that most people assume that you have to use the index finger when use the fingerprint scanner. This is the most natural finger to use for the scanner as we are accustomed to using it to point. Just think about how much you use that finger on the surface of any touchscreen. Since the surfaces are often covered with glass or glossy plastics, fingerprints are a normal occurrence such that we need clean the screen frequently. The problem is that this fingerprint is likely all over a device. Loose your device with a fingerprint scanner and a determined person could probably pull enough of a print somewhere on the device in order to reconstruct it and fool the security.
The next most logical finger to use for a scanner would be the thumb. Once again, this is fairly natural to use because the digit is easy to use by just sticking out one’s thumb. Smartphones can often be held in the palm of a hand and the thumb can be quickly placed on or over a sensor. The problem is that this fingerprint is one of the easiest to obtain by someone looking to bypass security. Just think about how you hold most objects. In order to hold them, you need that thumb in order to provide the pressure to actually grip it. It is also generally held in place and not moved around like your other fingers. The result is a that thumbprints are fairly common especially on the back sides of a device and are often quite complete to recover. This is especially true for any device that has a casing that is prone to fingerprints.
There are three other fingers on a hand that can be used with a fingerprint scanner plus one’s alternate hand that they don’t frequently use to hold or touch a device with. It still isn’t generally recommended that you use the index or thumb from that alternate hand though, so that leaves six total digits that could possibly be used. I typically recommend that you use the ring or pinky finger for the scanner if you want to improve your fingerprint scanners security. We don’t frequently use these fingers on the touchscreens or apply as much pressure when holding a device so there is less change of obtaining a fingerprint to duplicate. This combined with the fact that most people use their other fingers for the scanners means that someone who happens to get access to your device locked with a fingerprint will probably not think trying to duplicate the fingerprints from them.
Convenience Versus Risks
Security is all about mitigating risk. You put a lock on your door to prevent people from entering the door. A determined person can still bypass the door but it is much more difficult. As a result, you are reducing your risk of someone bypassing that door. A fingerprint scanner is another form of security that helps mitigate the risks for technology devices. It is much more difficult to get around of fingerprint scanner than a four digit pass code. This is probably enough for most people to not think much about making it even harder for someone to try and bypass the scanner security. After all, the speed that one can unlock a device with a scanner is pretty quick. Switching what finger your use will make unlocking that device a bit more difficult, just like adding a second lock on your door, but the piece of mind by reducing your risk is something to consider if you use such a biometric security device.