Devices with video-capturing capabilities, particularly Google Glass, can uncover the PIN code of your tablet or smartphone, according to cyber forensics experts working at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell.
Using a video clip and software that traces the shadows of your fingertips as they type onto a screen, they demonstrated how easy it is for hackers to steal your access code.
The experts tested this hacking method on an iPhone 5, Apple iPad and Google’s Nexus 7 tablet.
With camcorders, the thief can be more than 140 feet away, while the face-mounted Google Glass has a range of nearly ten feet. The software can also be used by a webcam and mobile phone that records video, they noted.
“The major thing here is the angle. To make this attack successful, the attacker must be able to adjust the angle to take a better video … they see your finger, the password is stolen,” said researcher Xinwen Fu.
Although pointing a camcorder at a stranger who is using a mobile device seems suspicious, the advent of wearable technology makes this a practical hacking method. For example, a smartwatch can record a target without attracting too much attention.
However, a company representative pointed out that Google has already taken this hacking method into consideration when it designed Google Glass.
“The fact that Glass is worn above the eyes and the screen lights up whenever it’s activated clearly signals it’s in use and makes it a fairly lousy surveillance device,” he said.