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Good News! Apple's Fingerprint Sensor Only Works on Live Fingers


That's right -- a thief can't cut off your finger and use it to unlock your iPhone 5S. Soon-to-be owners let out a collective sigh of relief.

Editor's Note: This content was originally published on by Jim Probasco.

After much research, it appears that you cannot unlock an Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 5S with a dead digit.

Yes, this was actually studied.

If someone threatens to cut off one of your fingers and use it to unlock your iPhone, they obviously have not read Mary Branscombe's article in CITEworld. In the piece, she said that the fingerprint sensor in the 5S "only works on a live finger, not one that's been severed from your body."

Mashable spoke with an expert at Validity Sensors in California who said, "The [RF capacitive sensor] technology is built in a way that the [fingerprint] image has to be taken from a live finger."

Unfortunately, if the point of the threat is to get you to unlock your phone, the fact that it won't work is probably moot. Chances are you would gladly unlock your phone in exchange for being able to pursue your dream of becoming a world famous (and ten-fingered) concert pianist.

The specter of having a finger (or two) lopped off and used to circumvent Apple's new security system even resulted in a Business Insider column suggesting you might want to consider using the index finger of your non-dominant hand to unlock your phone since that is the one you would likely least miss in the event of a forced amputation.

The whole "unlock your phone or I will chop off your finger" threat theme is probably overblown. What matters more than that is whether it's possible to circumvent Touch ID through any means. In other words, is Apple's new security system secure?

Compared with somebody looking over your shoulder and making note of your four-digit passcode, fingerprints are infinitely more secure, according to PC Magazine. While fingerprints are easy to copy, Apple's system, which utilizes technology that looks through the outer layers of skin to an inner "live" layer, eliminates the possibility of simply replicating the fingerprint pattern according to the company.

All that said, PC Magazine concluded that Touch ID is a work-in-progress. A more secure system would be one that combines both biometrics and a passcode. That, of course, defeats the main advantage of Touch ID, which is convenience.

For now, consumers contemplating the purchase of an Apple iPhone 5S probably don't need to keep their hands in their pockets or wear chainmail gloves for protection. At the end of the day, Touch ID will not likely result in an increase in criminal finger amputations.

Below, find some more great ETF and market content from Benzinga:

Three Apple Stories You Might Have Missed Wednesday

Is Apple's iPhone 5C the First iPhone for Kids?

Morgan Stanley Estimates Huge iPhone Sales

Twitter: @Benzinga

Benzinga Pro covers this and all market news in real time. Get your free trial here.
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