Phishing might sound like a fancy term cooked up by a sci-fi novel, but, unfortunately, it’s something we each have to deal with every time we fire up the Internet browser. With all types of malicious codes out there designed to compromise out systems, we often find ourselves wonder if it would be a good item just to cut the Internet cable or to turn off the Wi-Fi adaptor.
If the above-mentioned things seem disconcerting, wait until you about Newcastle’s University latest study on online threats. According to this paper, smartphone sensors, like the accelerometer, gyroscope, or the proximity sensors can be used in order to retrieve personal information from the owner’s phone. What’s even more daunting is that this type of hacking method is virtually untraceable.
Dr. Maryam Mehrnezhad of the Newcastle University and one of the authors of this new study stated that this might be the perfect method to extract personal information from someone’s phone since no one suspects that the sensors can be used to relay sensitive information.
Mehrnezhad pointed out that the obvious cause of this issue is that people don’t pay too much attention when installing applications on their phones. As you probably know by now, when your smartphone installs an app downloaded from the store, it shows you a complete list of functions accessed by that specific app.
Unfortunately, some of the apps, especially those related to gaming or fitness, fail to mention that they are going to use some or all of your phone’s sensors. Of course, if you download, for instance, a fitness application that keeps track of your daily exercising routine, it’s more than likely that it will use your phone’s gyroscope and other sensors to relay useful information.
Unfortunately, as pointed out by Dr. Mehrnezhad, this is how we can get our phones hacked. So, how does it work? Well, hackers can tap into your sensors’ data and reconstruct some of the motions you performed on it. For example, if you have a pattern-type lock, by accessing your phone’s proximity sensors, hackers can easily reconstruct the pattern and access your phone whenever they want.
In order to put her money where her mouth is, Dr. Mehrnezhad performed a little magic trick which involved guessing a smartphone’s PIN using only sensor data. So, at the end of the experiment, the good doctor and her team managed to guess the phone’s PIN with a 70% accuracy the first time and with a 100% accuracy the fifth time. Still think your phone is safe?
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