Your smartphone's gyroscope can be used as a keylogger
You probably know that someone may take advantage of your smartphone, don`t you? Having cracked your gadget, inventive hacker gains an access to its cameras and microphones. Thus, all your photos and conversations can be transferred to any third parties. Unfortunately, the opportunities of modern smartphone espionage are unlimited. In theory, there are a number of other less obvious ways to find out where you are and what you are doing right now.
Keylogger on the basis of the gyroscope data
All the modern smartphones are equipped with a gyroscope. This sensor determines precise direction of the gadget`s tilt, so, it can be used to automatically activate some functions or handling a vehicle in a racing game.
From year to year, these sensors are becoming more precise. Theoretically, any attacker can use their sensitivity to the slightest vibrations against you. The researchers from the Northeastern University in Boston proved it. Using both gyroscope and microphone, they managed to create a pretty accurate keylogger.
Keylogger is the software or hardware appliance with ability to register various actions of the user: keystroking, moving and clicking of a PC mouse, motions on a finger-touch screen.
Your smartphone slightly tilts with every touch while using the on-screen keyboard. After recognizing the slightest shift with a gyroscope, the keylogger is able to specify an approximate text you are typing. The possible variations are corrected in reliance on the sound intensity that produces when touching a glass of the display. Researchers used combination of these sensors and certain algorithms, and the first attempt was successful: they guessed the keystroke with an accuracy of 90-94%.
The location identification without GPS
Even with the GPS off, you can determine the location of device according to the used cell towers and location-based Wi-Fi points. However, you have the opportunity to get information about the user`s location even without access to such kind of the data.
The same researchers from the Northeastern University tried to demonstrate this with the help of smartphone sensors. Moreover, applications are allowed to use such sensors without special permissions. As a result, investigators created a special program that operates by means of a gyroscope, an accelerometer and a magnetometer.
Based on the region map (a person was there at that moment), the application allowed to track all movements of the car.
A special algorithm combined the data of all these sensors, according to which an approximate traffic scheme was created. It was compared with the real routes in that region where the surveillance took place. Such data really help to determine exactly where and when the user went, how much time he spent on driving.
Monitoring with the help of advertising banner
Thee is one more way to determine the location of a person without direct access to the GPS data of his smartphone. Researchers from the University of Washington used the advertising banner for mobile phones and described this method in more detail.
Each time the target phone used a specified application, information about the device, time and location was sent to the banner holders. With this information, the research team was able to track the user`s location within 25 feet (~ 7.6 meters). It`s really possible as long as the application is running for four minutes or it was launched twice in one and the same place.
A light sensor is the way to view the links you visited
The ambient light sensor allows you to adjust the brightness of your smartphone`s display. You will be surprised, but even this traditional sensor can be used against you.
Lukasz Olejnik illustrated this by creating an application based on the data from the light sensor. This app determines color of the links visited by the user. This allows to determine the web pages you have linked to.
Identification of the neighbor users and objects
The overwhelming majority of smartphones are equipped with a proximity sensor. It is used to turn off the touch screen when you are calling somebody. Otherwise, you would continue to press various buttons on the display during conversation.
This sensor not only detects that objects close to the screen, but also can measure the distance to them. Each of us holds the smartphone at a different distance, depending on the height, length of the hands, eyesight and many other factors. Based on all this information, the application can differentiate users and their behavioral patterns.
Each of these methods is still described as a theoretical one. So far none of them are widely practiced. However, maybe it`s only a matter of time.