I have heard smartphones may pose a dangerous security threat to enterprises; due to an internal structure of sensors...
through which vibrations can be detected remotely, attackers with the necessary tools may gain access to words with an accuracy of up to 80%. Is this a genuine threat enterprises should prepare for? If so, is it time for me to tell my executives they can't place their phones near their keyboards anymore?
The risk of smartphone eavesdropping of keyboard vibrations was first pointed out by Philip Marquardt of MIT Lincoln Labs and colleagues from Georgia Tech in a paper presented at the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security in October 2011. The researchers demonstrated a theoretical keyboard eavesdropping attack, waged using the accelerometers present in smartphones.
In their controlled laboratory environment, Marquardt and his colleagues used an iPhone 4 to monitor a user’s typing on a nearby keyboard. They claimed being able to achieve accuracy rates between 46-80% in reconstructing the words typed on the keyboard during such an attack.
Fortunately, enterprise employees don’t work in controlled laboratory environments. In addition to requiring the user to place his or her smartphone in direct proximity to the keyboard, the attacker must first have convinced the user to install and execute a malicious application on the device. The unlikely confluence of these circumstances greatly mitigates the threat to real users.
The bottom line is security professionals have plenty of real-world risks to worry about, and it’s not worthwhile to let this one keep them up at night until actual exploits in the wild begin to occur. I suspect this threat is unlikely to cause trouble in the foreseeable future.
Dig Deeper on Smartphone and PDA Viruses and Threats-Setup and Tools
Related Q&A from Mike Chapple
A proposed cyberattack information database in the U.K. aims to improve cyberinsurance. Expert Mike Chapple explains what collecting data breach ...continue reading
The proposed CFTC regulations on cybersecurity testing are set to finalize in 2016. Expert Mike Chapple discusses the effects these regulations have ...continue reading
Whether Apple is a HIPAA covered entity was called into question when it advertised for a health regulations lawyer. Expert Mike Chapple discusses ...continue reading
Have a question for an expert?
Please add a title for your question
Get answers from a TechTarget expert on whatever's puzzling you.