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A Phone’s Sensors Could Reveal Your PIN, Passwords

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In total, the team identified 25 different sensors which now come as standard on most smart devices. (Image courtesy: Google))

Cyber experts from Newcastle University in the UK have revealed that hackers can steal your PINs and passwords from the motion sensors of your phone when you type in the information.

The experts also highlighted that, it is very easy for malicious websites and installed apps to spy on you.

The experts demonstrated it is possible to crack four-digit PINs with a 70 per cent accuracy on the first guess – 100 per cent by the fifth guess – using just the data collected via the phone’s numerous internal sensors.

The research exposed that people are unaware of the risks and most of the smartphone users have little knowledge about the functions of the twenty five different sensors available on current smart phones.

While all the major players in the industry are aware of the problem, no-one has yet been able to find a solution.

sensors
Image courtesy: Google

“Most smart phones, tablets, and other wearable’s are now equipped with a multitude of sensors, from the well-known GPS, camera and microphone to instruments such as the gyroscope, proximity, NFC, and rotation sensors and accelerometer,” said Maryam Mehrnezhad, research fellow at Newcastle University.

“More worrying, on some browsers, we found that if you open a page on your phone or tablet which hosts one of these malicious code and then open, for example, your online banking account without closing the previous tab, then they can spy on every personal detail you enter,” she said.

Sensors are now commonplace in smart devices and are largely responsible for the boom in mobile gaming and health and fitness apps, and soon in all devices in the Internet of Things (IoT), researchers said.

The data provided by them combined with the growing computational ability of mobile phones and tablets has transformed the way we use them.

The research published in the International Journal of Information Security found that, if a user opens a page on her/his phone or tablet which hosts malicious code and then open, for example, online banking account without closing the previous tab, then they can spy on every personal detail the user enters.

In total, the team identified 25 different sensors which now come as standard on most smart devices and are used to give different information about the device and its user.

Only a small number of these – such as the camera and GPS – ask the user’s permission to access the device.

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