Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Apple’s new iPhone Wallet app adds biometric medical ID

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The new ID option for users in the United States and China will be a key consideration for biometric security, say researchers Apple says it will add a new, biometric option to the iPhone’s signature Wallet app. The medical ID will allow users to add healthcare data such as a vaccination record, effectively replacing the current wallet and ID card. But it appears the feature

will be available only to iPhone users in the United States and China – as well as those who are already registered for Apple Health. It is set to be released to all users in 2019. Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The new system will allow users to upload healthcare records, which may be used to get a ‘iPad scan’ Unlike fingerprints or eye scans, which are virtually impossible to duplicate, this feature

will allow users to store a unique identifier that will not be copied. It will also serve as an alternative to passports and other regular identification cards, like NHS tags, and allows users to add data to a second account. Health records Unlike a boarding pass, Health insurance information would not need to be encrypted, meaning they could be easily stolen from a device. Biometric information has the advantage of

being an enhanced read, and potentially easier to hack, according to an IDext researcher. Image copyright Apple Image caption Currently, you have to store multiple ID cards in a wallet app to avoid losing them However, there is the possibility of saving money by using this card in the future if security is tightened. The problem is, if users’ medical data is an encrypted image, there is no way to reliably distinguish

between it and other files that would be accessible if the data were not encrypted, he said. Packed with data Unlike passports, or NHS tags – both of which have to be snapped in a precise location and attached to specific iPads – the biometric card could be easily loaded with files when a device is thrown into a backpack, for example. In some industries, securing medical information within a healthcare system could

be simpler if it could be embedded in a card that just needs to be swiped over a reader, rather than transmitted by satellites around the world, said the researcher. The inclusion of data on files elsewhere on a device, such as Apps, even if the file is encrypted, can present problems when it is opened by multiple apps in one device. Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Many data-security experts welcomed the

move, but said it could open the way for manipulation But in Apple’s case, any data will need to be protected with one of the very secure three-factor authentication protocols it uses to protect its cloud computing service. Apple declined to comment on how many customers would be affected, but thousands of iPhone users will have the option in each of the two countries where the feature is already available. The

authentication card was welcomed by the Financial Times, where photo editor Paul Rosal, 52, called it a “truly compelling idea”. Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Like iris scans and fingerprint scans, the unique identifier for a medical ID is easier to copy than fingerprints However, many biometric security researchers criticised the move. Brad Fitzpatrick, senior technical director at Identity Finder

warned the new feature may “break as many bank- and password-protected applications as it helps secure”. “The fingerprint solution is notoriously insecure, and the facial recognition is far more limited than Apple’s home-grown systems, he said. However, last month Apple rolled out a multi-factor authentication feature which could store two fingerprints and a thumbprint in a single iPhone, raising questions about

whether the biometric card would be needed after the iPhone X’s launch.

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