What seems as simple as placing your fingertip over the home button of the iPhone 5s is actually a fairly complex — and highly encrypted — process that provides a firm layer of security to the device. The intricacies of Apple’s Touch ID system are revealed in a newly released security document.
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Apple overviews Touch ID security in newly released document

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What seems as simple as placing your fingertip over the home button of the iPhone 5s is actually a fairly complex — and highly encrypted — process that provides a firm layer of security to the device. The intricacies of Apple’s Touch ID system are revealed in a newly released security document from Apple, giving insight into how the fingerprint scanner incorporates into the iPhone 5s while remaining secure and separate.

The basis of the entire platform is the “Secure Enclave,” a special coprocessor built as part of Apple’s A7 chipset. The Secure Enclave generates, stores, and manages data associated with Touch ID and other elements of device security. The Secure Enclave is created with its own Unique ID (UID) that is not know to Apple or accessible by the system at large. This coprocessor is used to generate encryption and security keys.

The presence of a Secure Enclave unique to each device means extreme hardware specificity. A Touch ID sensor from one phone when installed in another will not work. The Secure Enclave also allows for a longer, more complex passcode string to be stored and triggered by a registered fingerprint, making it more secure than a standard 4-digit pin.

The entire document is of interest to anyone concerned about the security of their iOS device, but it sheds particular light on just how deep Touch ID security goes. While many have viewed a fingerprint scanner as more gimmick than anything else, Apple makes a compelling case for the added security benefits of such a system.

[via Apple]

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