By Charles Leaver

Smartphone security tips: Pros and cons of fingerprint scanners

The upcoming Galaxy S5 smartphone is the latest in a line of devices to feature a fingerprint scanner as an unlocking mechanism. Although such options may seem exciting and futuristic, the scanner has benefits and drawbacks for endpoint security.

Associated Press technology writer Anick Jesdanun noted that Samsung’s new device is at least the third to come equipped with such capabilities, and although a fingerprint scanner may prove to encourage more users to lock their devices, the security measures are not bulletproof.

According to The New York Times, as many as half of smartphone owners do not utilize a password to lock their hardware. This can present a considerable threat to endpoint data protection., as if an individual’s unlocked device is lost or stolen, hackers have easy access to any sensitive content contained there.

While locking the smartphone with a fingerprint may serve to ward off these kinds of attacks, security experts have showed that such protection measures can be hacked, the New York Times stated. The process is not an easy one, and requires the correct, clean fingerprint of the device owner which is copied with transparency film and used to unlock the phone. However, if not performed correctly, the cybercriminal may not be successful as users only have a set number of attempts before they are asked to utilize a four-digit or patterned passcode.

Tips to boost smartphone endpoint security
A number of users are attracted to new smartphone models with fingerprint scanners. However, these individuals should not rely only on this feature to ensure the endpoint security of their mobile devices. Hardware owners should utilize two-factor authentication when they can, which provides an additional layer of security against unauthorized access.

Naked Security also recommends configuring smartphone settings to ensure that the endpoint automatically locks when not in use for a set period of time. Users should also select the shortest amount of time allowed for this security measure, as the inconvenience of unlocking the hardware outweighs the security vulnerability.

Users should also be sure to update the software on their smartphones and applications whenever a new version is released. These patches correct known security problems and can prevent hackers from exploiting weaknesses in the operating system.

Furthermore, individuals should disable the automatic Wi-Fi connection feature. Although this capability can provide added convenience and save on the data plan, it can also open an unsecured access point for cyberthieves’ data leakage activities.

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