Whilst it’s not incorrect, it’s something we wish to adjourn. The Guardian, as well as many others, posted a post in relation to the iPhone 6 becoming “bricked” if the Home button had being “repaired” by a non-Apple reseller or repair program after installing the latest iOS update. A lot of what was posted in The Guardian post which has, in true Apple fashion gone viral, is either incorrect, or worded in a way to set you off in a natural wrong direction, and does require some clarification, which we’ll get to now.
WHAT THE GUARDIAN SAYS?
According to the post on The Guardian, should you install the (just released iOS 9.2.1) update on an iPhone 6, you could find yourself with a bricked device. Should your iPhone 6 have had a repaired, or replaced Home button by a third party, the software will block the use of the Home button, granting the device useless and display an error code 53.
In typical journalistic fashion, they also go in to sympathy mode by showing an Journalist representative, who for added affect is in a war-torn environment, who also “so happened to” get this iPhone 6 Home Button replaced by a non Apple reseller and has faced this problem. The post goes on to blame Apple as money grabbers, and basically spark the fuel that everyone already has, but hey, that’s journalism for you.
Below we’ve got the reality check for you;
Whilst this is similarly as stupid, on paper, to when Apple prevented the use of non ‘made for iPhone’ Lightning cables, the reality is this is a big deal and is fully on intent of protecting your data. The iPhone 6, as well as the iPhone 5S and 6S (which too are affected by this), all have the option of storing up to 5 Fingerprints of yourself to the device to authenticate and unlock the device which Apple brand Touch ID. Since Touch IDs incarnation, you can now do so much more, get in to secure applications, now make payments over Apple Pay, so it’s pretty important that Touch ID is protected at all costs.
One of the big selling points of Touch ID, especially when it came to secure payments over Apple Pay, is that no ‘one’ is the same, every Touch ID sensor and identifier is the same, so no pattern can be linked for potential hackers to find and utilise. What this means, be it an expensive job, should your Touch ID sensor either break or get damaged, it’s not repairable and thus you would need a replacement device to ensure that secure transaction.
Should you go to a third party shop anyway, no one in the right mind would replace the Home button on a Touch ID iPhone anyway, their not designed to be replaced like iPhone 5C, or 5 and under, and have a collection of implications if they manage to be replaced. Should you replace your Touch ID Home button with a new one, you’re then using two separate plates of hardware than what was originally synchronised, this means your Fingerprint data is much less secure, and is likely not to be free from appearing on iOS storage, rather than the secure enclave it’s intended to, this means everytime you tap that Touch ID sensor, you’re freeing one of the most secure elements of your body, so if we’re being perfectly honest, disabling the Sensor and placing an Error … we think that’s a good thing for you especially going forward.
Not to mention the fact that there’s already being reports in China of replaced Touch ID Home Buttons containing more than just the button and transmitting said data elsewhere. PLUS! Let’s not forget, it’s £250 to replace an iPhone 6S Plus 128GB … so quit with the whole it breaks the bank palava. It’s not great, we get that, but at least it keeps you secure.
STATEMENT FROM APPLE
Apple have since responded to us and many others reporting this, and have said the following;
“We protect fingerprint data using a secure enclave, which is uniquely paired to the touch ID sensor. When iPhone is serviced by an authorised Apple service provider or Apple retail store for changes that affect the touch ID sensor, the pairing is re-validated. This check ensures the device and the iOS features related to touch ID remain secure. Without this unique pairing, a malicious touch ID sensor could be substituted, thereby gaining access to the secure enclave. When iOS detects that the pairing fails, touch ID, including Apple Pay, is disabled so the device remains secure.
When an iPhone is serviced by an unauthorised repair provider, faulty screens or other invalid components that affect the touch ID sensor could cause the check to fail if the pairing cannot be validated. With a subsequent update or restore, additional security checks result in an ‘error 53’ being displayed … If a customer encounters an unrecoverable error 53, we recommend contacting Apple support”
To us that prints it in black and white … sure it contains jargon, but all company statements do. On one side you’ve people anxious about the security of these Fingerprint systems, and then you’ve this side of people who are essentially complaining when they do. If Touch ID breaks down for any reason, a new device is required.