How easily can your phone be hacked?

Researchers at Newcastle University have revealed just how easily your smartphone can be hacked, guessing four-digit PINs with 70 per cent accuracy. But how do they do it?

Computer scientists claim that they can guess your PIN just by the way your phone tilts when you type it in. They do this by accessing the data attained by the gyroscope built into your smart device.

By accessing the data sent by sensors in your phone, the researchers could guess four-digit PINs with 70 per cent accuracy on the first attempt. Within five attempts, they could guess with 100 per cent accuracy.

“Most smartphones, tablets, and other wearables are now equipped with a multitude of sensors, from the well-known GPS, camera and microphone to instruments such as the gyroscope, rotation sensors and accelerometer,” said research fellow in the School of Computing Science at Newcastle University, Dr Maryam Mehrnezhad.

“But because mobile apps and websites don’t need to ask permission to access most of them, malicious programs can covertly ‘listen in’ on your sensor data and use it to discover a wide range of sensitive information about you, such as phone call timing, physical activities and even your touch actions, pins and passwords.”

While websites need to ask permission from users to access data on your device, some information, such as how your screen tilts, is considered non-sensitive.

The good news is that, to gain the necessary information to hack a phone, users had to type in the same four-digit PIN five times before their algorithm could guess a PIN.

The team was also able to identify how 25 different sensors freely sent information about a device and its user. They’ve alerted Apple and Google about the security flaw but, so far, neither company has come up with a solution.

Read more at The Guardian

Does this worry you? To avoid this security flaw, YourLifeChoices suggests that you regularly change your smartphone PIN.

Related articles:
Can the CIA hack your smartphone?
How to make your email hackproof
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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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