Are fingerprints and iris scans strong enough?

Next story
Olivia Storey

Different types of phone locking technology is becoming more readily available, with the use of passcodes and the introduction of biometrics.

Long gone are the days of locking and unlocking a phone with a simple ‘key lock’ and ‘*’ as we are well into more complex phone locking technology. The tech market is now offering iris scanning, fingerprint scanning, PIN codes, and even trusted places, trusted devices, and trusted face on the Smart Lock features for Android.

Fingerprint scanning first hitting the mobile phone scene back in 2007 with the Toshiba G500 & G900, but later made popular by Apple with Touch ID on iPhones from 2013 and is still a prominent feature on iPhones and most other Smart phones. However, Iris scanning has now been introduced as the next level of security for your personal data and smart phones via the new Galaxy Note 7.

Android and Google’s ‘Trusted’ Smart lock has several different functionalities, including the ability to bypass security settings when you are in certain places , connecting to certain devices or using your face, allowing you to skip your lock screen giving quicker access to device.

With so much phone locking technology on the market, we ask Mark James, ESET IT Security Specialist, which are the most reliable and safe to use to protect your phone and personal information.

“As long as we understand what these security measures are actually used for, then we can make a decision on what one works for us.

“If you want something to stop ‘someone’ from accessing your private data, like if your phone is lost or stolen, and they do not have any information on you, then most of the current phone locking techniques will do that job.

“However, if you want to stop ‘anyone’ from hacking your phone, if they know you or have access to information about the owner then none of phone locking techniques are theoretically secure.

“If each one of the above measures are tested in a lab environment with a picture of your eye, or an imprint of your fingertips, they are just as effective as having a copy of your passcode - i.e. useless.

“When it comes to protecting your device from the opportunistic, then multi-layered is always going to be best.

“Using a code or biometrics along with location then you’re better off than just relying on just a code.

“I would always prefer something that others cannot just copy, like a fingerprint or eye scan.

“Someone can easily watch you enter a passcode and later use that, but for the average person getting hold of a copy of your fingerprint or iris is a different league completely.

“Definitely enable security phone lock features on your phone, periodically change your unlock code and choose something more secure than a simple 4 digit code if you can.

Do not rely on codes alone.

“Most of all be please be careful what you store on your phone or in the cloud and information automatically accessed via your phone, it may not be your physical ‘phone’ they are actually after.”


What is your preferred method of locking your phone? Let us know on Twitter @ESETUK.


Join the ESET UK LinkedIn Group and stay up to date with the blog. If you are interested in seeing where ESET has been featured in the news then check out our ‘In the news’ section.