“Smudge Attacks on Smartphone Touch Screens“:
Abstract: Touch screens are an increasingly common feature on personal computing devices, especially smartphones, where size and user interface advantages accrue from consolidating multiple hardware components (keyboard, number pad, etc.) into a single software definable user interface. Oily residues, or smudges, on the touch screen surface, are one side effect of touches from which frequently used patterns such as a graphical password might be inferred.
In this paper we examine the feasibility of such smudge attacks on touch screens for smartphones, and focus our analysis on the Android password pattern. We first investigate the conditions (e.g., lighting and camera orientation) under which smudges are easily extracted. In the vast majority of settings, partial or complete patterns are easily retrieved. We also emulate usage situations that interfere with pattern identification, and show that pattern smudges continue to be recognizable. Finally, we provide a preliminary analysis of applying the information learned in a smudge attack to guessing an Android password pattern.
Reminds me of similar attacks on alarm and lock keypads.
Posted on August 12, 2010 at 6:48 AM •
Seems there are a lot of them. They do it for marketing purposes. Really, they seem to do it because the code base they use does it automatically or just because they can. (Initial reports that an Android wallpaper app was malicious seems to have been an overstatement; they’re just incompetent: inadvertently collecting more data than necessary.)
Meanwhile, there’s now an Android rootkit available.
Posted on August 2, 2010 at 9:21 PM •
It’s easy to access someone else’s voicemail by spoofing the caller ID. This isn’t new; what is new is that many people now have easy access to caller ID spoofing.
The spoofing only works for voicemail accounts that don’t have a password set up, but AT&T has no password as the default.
Posted on July 14, 2010 at 6:51 AM •
This is an interesting piece of research evaluating different user interface designs by which applications disclose to users what sort of authority they need to install themselves. Given all the recent concerns about third-party access to user data on social networking sites (particularly Facebook), this is particularly timely research.
We have provided evidence of a growing trend among application platforms to disclose, via application installation consent dialogs, the resources and actions that applications will be authorized to perform if installed. To improve the design of these disclosures, we have have taken an important first step of testing key design elements. We hope these findings will assist future researchers in creating experiences that leave users feeling better informed and more confident in their installation decisions.
Within the admittedly constrained context of our laboratory study, disclosure design had surprisingly little effect on participants’ ability to absorb and search information. However, the great majority of participants preferred designs that used images or icons to represent resources. This great majority of participants also disliked designs that used paragraphs, the central design element of Facebook’s disclosures, and outlines, the central design element of Android’s disclosures.
Posted on May 21, 2010 at 1:17 PM •
I sure hope this is a parody:
SnapScouts Keep America Safe!
Want to earn tons of cool badges and prizes while competing with you friends to see who can be the best American? Download the SnapScouts app for your Android phone (iPhone app coming soon) and get started patrolling your neighborhood.
It’s up to you to keep America safe! If you see something suspicious, Snap it! If you see someone who doesn’t belong, Snap it! Not sure if someone or something is suspicious? Snap it anyway!
Play with your friends and family to see who can get the best prizes. Join the SnapScouts today!
Posted on May 10, 2010 at 2:11 PM •
It can happen to anyone:
Here’s how I got fooled. On Monday, I unlocked my Nexus One phone, installing a new and more powerful version of the Android operating system that allowed me to do some neat tricks, like using the phone as a wireless modem on my laptop. In the process of reinstallation, I deleted all my stored passwords from the phone. I also had a couple of editorials come out that day, and did a couple of interviews, and generally emitted a pretty fair whack of information.
The next day, Tuesday, we were ten minutes late getting out of the house. My wife and I dropped my daughter off at the daycare, then hurried to our regular coffee shop to get take-outs before parting ways to go to our respective offices. Because we were a little late arriving, the line was longer than usual. My wife went off to read the free newspapers, I stood in the line. Bored, I opened up my phone fired up my freshly reinstalled Twitter client and saw that I had a direct message from an old friend in Seattle, someone I know through fandom. The message read “Is this you????”? and was followed by one of those ubiquitous shortened URLs that consist of a domain and a short code, like this: http://owl.ly/iuefuew.
The whole story is worth reading.
Posted on May 7, 2010 at 6:56 AM •
Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.