Jared Felkins: Apple may be a leader in more ways than the obvious

Years ago when my grandfather was around, he used to worry about things I thought were trivial.
Sep 27, 2013
Jared Felkins is The Democrat’s director of content. Email him at jfelkins@lebanondemocrat.com or follow him on Twitter @paperboyfelkins.

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.”

— Steve Jobs

Years ago when my grandfather was around, he used to worry about things I thought were trivial. 

Paw-Paw, as us grandchildren called him, was a central Alabama dirt farmer with a sixth-grade education. He also went halfway around the earth and back, serving in World War II and retired from a Birmingham, Ala. machine factory that entrusted him to make parts so precise they had to be within a millionth of an inch. 

One thing I admired about him most was he was in church just about every time the doors were open and knew the Bible from cover to cover. 

So it was difficult on the rest of the family – especially for my mother who worked for a bank – when he refused to have a credit or debit card. He equated it to the mark of the beast. 

“Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666,” Revelation 23:16-18. 

I have no doubt Paw-Paw is in heaven now. But I wonder what he would think about the new iPhone released last week. 

According to The Los Angeles Times, Apple Inc. sold 9 million new iPhones over the weekend, breaking previous records and sending the company’s stock soaring. 

But I wonder what Paw-Paw would say about the iPhone 5S’s Touch ID biometric security that uses fingerprint technology to unlock the phone. 

“That bloomin’ Apple has done created the mark of the beast, I tell you,” he might say. I can almost hear him now. 

Honestly, I really think the new iPhone is another technological advancement from a pioneer company. It’s nothing new. Apple has been doing it for years. 

But The Washington Times reports a hacking group from Germany says it has discovered how to breach the biometrics security system for the new iPhone 5S. 

A spokesman for the group, the Chaos Computer Club, said members took a photograph of a fingerprint on a glass surface and then made an image of a fake “finger” to unlock the phone, CNN reported. The group posted a YouTube video to televise the discovery.

The Touch ID biometric security was a much-touted Apple technological addition to the iPhone.

“We hope that this finally puts to rest the illusions people have about fingerprint biometrics,” said Frank Rieger, a spokesman for the Chaos Computer Club, in the CNN report. “It is plain stupid to use something that you can’t change and that you leave everywhere every day as a security token.”

The hackers didn’t just snap any old photograph. They used a high-resolution imprint and then inverted it and made a copy via a laser printer and extra toner onto a transparent sheet. CNN said they then put pink latex milk onto the fingerprint pattern and lifted a copy of it using a latex sheet.

They then put the copycat print onto the phone sensor and unlocked it.

“As we have said now for ... years, fingerprints should not be used to secure anything. You leave them everywhere and it is far too easy to make fake fingers out of lifted prints,” one of the club hackers said.

Apple did not provide CNN with a response.

So who’s right, Paw-Paw or Apple? It’s pretty certain this is just another example of a technology giant providing the next best thing for the masses – at a cost. I’m hopeful that cost is just $199 for anyone eligible for an upgrade. 

But if Paw-Paw’s theory is right, what does that make Steve Jobs?

Jared Felkins is The Democrat’s director of content. Email him at jfelkins@lebanondemocrat.com or follow him on Twitter @paperboyfelkins.


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