But what really interested us was the reaction of analysts, who a week ago were encouraging Apple to make the fingerprint scanner available for mobile payment apps that today are only secured with PINs. (Could the fingerprint scanner be cracked? The consensus: "highly unlikely.") By Monday afternoon (Sept. 23), hours after the hack was reported, analysts were already downplaying the fingerprint scanner as a convenience feature that was always mostly for show anyway. Riiiiiight. For our part, we're still hoping someone comes up with an authentication approach that's really more secure than a good password or random PIN. We'll know they're onto something when the analysts dismiss it first and then start hyping it afterward.
As if anyone needed a reminder not to be overawed by technology hype: Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) highly touted fingerprint authentication system on the iPhone 5s took less than three days to crack. (We expected it, just not this fast.) And the hacker who did it used exactly the same make-a-fake-latex-fingerprint approach that has worked for the last few generations of fingerprint scanners. Apple's big security breakthrough seems to have consisted of requiring a fake print scanned at 2,400 dpi instead of a lower resolution.