Cellphone Made To Steal Keystrokes

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ATLANTA, Oct. 18 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say a smartphone could be hacked to sense, record and transmit the keystrokes of a person working on a computer nearby.

Researchers at Georgia Tech said by using a smartphone’s accelerometer — the internal device that detects when and how a phone is tilted — to sense keyboard vibrations, they were able to decipher complete sentences being typed on a computer on a nearby desktop with as much as 80 percent accuracy.

Though not easy, it is possible with most new smartphones, the researchers said in a release Monday.

“We first tried our experiments with an iPhone 3GS, and the results were difficult to read,” Patrick Traynor, a professor of computer science, said. “But then we tried an iPhone 4, which has an added gyroscope to clean up the accelerometer noise, and the results were much better. We believe that most smartphones made in the past two years are sophisticated enough to launch this attack.”

However, cellphone owners shouldn’t be paranoid that hackers are tracking their keystrokes, Traynor said.

“The likelihood of someone falling victim to an attack like this right now is pretty low,” he said. “This was really hard to do. But could people do it if they really wanted to? We think yes.”

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