BEIJING: Smartphones could be smarter than you need them to be. A new study shows that hackers could potentially steal a mobile device's pin number with the help of motion sensors, further revealing an information security vulnerability.
Researchers at Newcastle University in Britain found that hackers are able to decipher pins and passwords just from the way people tilt the phone when typing in the numbers. The findings were published in the International Journal of Information Security on Monday.
The research shows that it's possible to crack four-digit pins with a 70 percent accuracy on the first guess, and the accuracy could go up to 100 percent by the fifth time.
The guess, however, is based on a lot of data, as users needed to type 50 pins five times each before the hacking system learns the way they held a phone when typing each number.
Most smartphones today are equipped with various sensors, such as GPS, camera and a rotation sensor, the data of which could be secretly obtained by malicious programs. Among the 25 sensors tested by the team, only a few need user permission to access the device.
Besides the risk in pin numbers, fingerprint sensors also have a security hole, according to new findings from New York University and Michigan State University, also published on Monday.
The study shows fake fingerprints digitally composed of many common features found in human prints could easily trick smartphones. Researchers didn't test their theory with real phones, but in computer simulations, artificial prints could match real prints 65 percent of the time.