When it comes to securing your phone, the way to do it is vastly debatable. While fingerprint seems a more convenient and safer option as no one can guess it or peek into it, is it really safer? Or using a PIN lock is a stronger approach?
Let’s look into some facts and then decide…
While it is a common idea that fingerprint lock is the safest way t go when it comes to securing your data as it’s unique, can’t be copied and certainly can’t be used without your permission but there have been several attempts to get past this technique as well.
A group at Michigan university attempted to do so by using a 300 dpi scanner and printed out a finger print with a unique ink on a glossy surfaced paper and deceived the Samsung Galaxy S6 scanner.
Another attempt was made back in 2013, when a Germany’s Chaos Computer Club took a high resolution picture of a fingerprint that was used to create a latex model of the fingerprint which successfully fooled the scanner. But then there are other simpler methods out there that are way less technical that can be used to access your fingerprint.
So which one to use?? That one totally depends upon the device you are using and the kind of security it offer. For Example: iPhone contains a security feature that if enabled, erases the complete data of the phone after 10 unsuccessful attempts at guessing the PIN code. But without such additional security features, it is about a matter of time when a highly dedicated person guesses your PIN combination because no matter how long or how strong a code may be, the number of combinations for a six digit code are always finite. In such cases, fingerprint lock might be a safer road to take because it couldn’t be stolen or guessed for that matter. But even if we take brute force guessing attack out of the picture, there are attempts that have been made to get across the iPhone security as well, such that the wrong guess counter won’t increment after each wrong guess which just proves that no matter how robust the security may be, it can never be perfect and can always be broken.
So which one to use?
The fingerprint lock approach seems safer in practical cases because the amount of resources required to get over that one require a lot of skill, expertise and expenses that won’t be available to amateurs that usually want access to your phone like your siblings or anyone who picks up your phone at a restaurant or a coffee shop.
Breaking the PIN code however, is a painstaking task, but it certainly is possible with high motivation as it doesn’t require much of skills or brain for that matter just A LOT OF TIME.
There are laws in some countries that allow civilians to rightfully deny disclosure of their PIN code even to government officials and they cannot retrieve it by force either. But in a reported case, a civilian wa once ordered by the judge to open her fingerprint code and would be takin forcefully if denied to do so, so unless you are an active reporter, journalist or a criminal; its best to secure you phone with a fingerprint lock.