Despite the ongoing battle between the FBI and Apple over unlocking the San Bernardino` terrorists' iPhones, the devices aren't as secure as you would expect.
In fact, a Chinese mobile startup named Vkansee showed the world this week that the phone's fingerprint sensor can be hacked with something as simple and easy to access as Play-Doh. Yes, the child's toy version of modeling clay.
The hack works like this:
- Create a mold of your fingerprint, which can be done in a number of different ways.
- Use the mold to fashion a replica using the Play-Doh. In other words, press the Play-Doh into the mold.
- Take the Play-Doh replica and place it on an iPhone's fingerprint sensor and viola! You've hacked into (or unlocked) an iPhone with relative ease.
— Arjun Kharpal (@ArjunKharpal) February 24, 2016
Apple has yet to respond to this problem, mainly because it's not anticipating a wave of criminals rushing out to create molds of fingerprints, but it's still possible. Also, consider that last year, more than 5.6 million fingerprints were stolen in the OPM hack and then there's other methods hackers can use to steal your fingerprints off of your phone.
For now, iPhone users have five unsuccessful attempts to use the fingerprint sensor before they are locked out and prompted to enter the passcode. However, even that method isn't as secure as you think. Users can also use Siri to bypass the lock screen to access things like contact lists.
There's not much you can do in the meantime, except wait for a fix. A possible solution, proposed by Vkansee, could be switching over to more secure eye and iris scanners, but that technology isn't ready for mass production just yet.