Can screen smudges give away your password?

Aug 16, 2010
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Can screen smudges give away your password?

In movies and on TV sneaky spy types have been able to gain access to password protected files and areas by using the smudges on a keypad to figure out a password. That is all fiction from film though right? A group of researchers claim that those smudges on your smartphone screen could in fact give away your password.

The attacks have been termed "smudge attacks" and the report comes by way of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. According to the paper, a hacker could use the smudges to infer the password. In the research, the team took photos of a screen and used a program to analyze the photos.

According to the researchers, over 90% of the time the software was able to find the correct password. The study use smartphones based on Android that use a graphic pattern to unlock the phone. The team is now looking at whether heat trails on a touchscreen could create a similar vulnerability.


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