Apr 12, 2017 01:17 PM EDT
The experts at Newcastle University found out how malicious websites, as well as installed apps, can spy on people using the data from the motion sensors installed in today's mobile phones. Cyber terrorists analyze the movement of one device as the owner types in the sensitive information. In fact, the possibility to crack a four-digit PIN has at least 70 percent success rate on the first guess. The hackers eventually get it 100 percent correct on their fifth try.
According to Science Daily, the researchers are now looking at additional risks posed by personal fitness trackers. For one, these apps are linked to the owner's online profiles and may potentially be utilized to "interpret" even the smallest wrist movements. The lead author of the paper, Dr. Maryam Mehrnezhad, noted that most of the gadgets are now equipped with "a multitude of sensors". From GPS, cameras, gyroscopes, and accelerometers, the bad guys appear to have all means to spy on one's private life.
Apparently, due to the fact that mobile apps and websites do not need formal permission to access them, malicious programs can secretly "listen in" on people's sensor data and breach into secured information. Moreover, on some browsers, opening a page which hosts one the said malicious codes and then opening another tab for your online banking account may spell disaster. When a person logs in the bank website without closing the previous tab, then the hackers could be watching the victim's entries.
Now, as if nothing is scarier than that, these hackers can still access one's information even if the phone is locked. Per Newcastle University, as long as the malicious site is open, cyber crimes are just lurking around the corner. All in all, the experts identified 25 different sensors in the device and only the camera and GPS require user's permission for access.
While Dr. Mehrnezhad and her colleagues determine the best possible way to counter hackers without completely disabling the benefits of the sensors, they gave some simple rules people "should" follow. First is to make sure that passwords are changed regularly; second is to close background apps when not in use; third is to uninstall apps that are no longer needed; last is to install applications only from legitimate app stores.
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