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Touchscreens Pose Smudgy Security Risk Thanks to Greasy Faces

Smudgy Android Phone
The greasier among you take heed: your touchscreen cell phone may be vulnerable to smudge hacking. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania (.PDF) have found that, with a camera and some basic photo processing, they can map taps and swipes on a cell phone's screen, thanks to the thin layer of oil left behind when you hold the device to your face. With just a little increase in contrast and under ideal conditions, the researchers were able to guess the patterned passcode to an Android phone 92-percent of the time. Granted, Android phones using the pattern unlock screen are particularly vulnerable to this type of hacking, and, under less than ideal conditions, the accuracy of guesses dropped dramatically.

Still, the research shows how simple it can be to collect information with relatively basic tools and skills, thanks to your greasy skin. Though it would take considerably more effort, the authors of the study believe this simple technique of looking at smudges could be used to decipher traditional alphanumeric passphrases and PINs on ATMs. To make matters worse, simply sliding the phone into your pocket or wiping down the screen does almost nothing to erase your oily tracks. Guess you'll just have to learn to love speaker phone and sausage styli, or do what ladies have been doing for decades and give your phone a good powdering to combat shine. [From: PC Pro and Geekosysystem]

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Tags: android, atm, cellphones, grease, oil, OilySkin, security, smudge, smudge hacking, SmudgeHacking, top, touchscreen

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