A Phone That Reads Your Fingerprint, Ctd

A reader notes:

Stealing fingerprints as shown in your Mythbusters clip will not work for the iPhone. I’m surprised Apple hasn’t publicized this more, given the amount of misinformation out there:

[L]ike the sensor in the iPhone 5S, the sensors that will be in laptops and keyboards and other phones can detect the ridge and valley pattern of your fingerprint not from the layer of dead skin on the outside of your finger (which a fake finger can easily replicate), but from the living layer of skin under the surface of your finger, using an RF [radio frequency] signal. That only works on a live finger; not one that’s been severed from your body. This will protect you from thieves trying to chop off your finger when they mug you for your phone (assuming they’re tech-literate thieves, of course), as well as from people with fake fingers using the fingerprint they lifted from your phone screen.

Another reader:

One of your readers commented that “a password you can remember equates to a password that can be cracked.” This is not necessarily true, especially if you change the paradigm of how we construct passwords.

Randall Munroe of XKCD noted that the normal way we make passwords for our systems is based on requiring a certain number of characters in the password, including requirements for uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and punctuation symbols. These kinds of passwords are modestly difficult for computers to crack, and they are rather difficult for humans to remember. This leads people to writing down their passwords, and that’s how the courts can get people to give up their password without violating the 5th Amendment.

A different password strategy altogether flips this script. Instead of requiring a certain number of characters, we could instead require a number of words pulled from the dictionary. These are inherently easier for people to remember. While dictionary words are much easier for a computer algorithm to crack on an individual basis than the complex passwords described above, adding a series of them together dramatically ramps up the difficulty of a computer cracking it while still being very easy for humans to remember. This means people won’t have to write down their passwords, so courts will have to recognize your 5th Amendment right to not give up the contents of your mind.

Regarding another recent thread on iPhone technology:

On that Phoneblok idea, I can assure you that the market will NOT be seeing such a easily-reconfigurable phone anytime soon, if ever.  I am an electrical engineer as well as tech market analyst with expertise in display technology as well as connectivity/interface technologies. Phoneblok appears to be something of an industrial engineer’s dream, but it would be the mechanical and electrical engineer’s nightmare come true.

I’m not saying something similar to the Phoneblok concept is impossible, but I can guarantee you that any such design would be so fraught with inefficiencies and design tradeoffs that just to achieve even a marginal amount of block swapping capability as described that the design would be either too large, too thick, too slow, too-everything that it would be dead on arrival in terms of consumer acceptance (if not simply too expensive in the long run for any OEM to even attempt to build it). In terms of forward compatibility, the rate of change in interface speeds, standards, pinout/interconnect physical design is occurring at a rate that by 3 to 4 years from now, your Phoneblok would likely be obsolete anyway.