FFE Magazine

How to steal ipad passcode?

 

iPad owners beware: a study revealed that it’s fairly easy for others to steal your passcode with just a glance as far as 44 metres away.

 

26jun ipad passcode-1

 

 

University of Massachusetts Lowell tested a number of video-recording devices to see whether they can pick up the movement of the hand entering a four-digit passcode sequence on the screen of an iPad. With the help of software, they then tracked the shadows from finger taps to guess the code.

 

The researchers found out that, even if the content of the screen cannot be seen or is obscured by glare, video-recording devices can capture passcodes accurately, giving others the power to steal an iPad owner’s information.

 

The researchers were able to correctly guess the code with almost 90% accuracy each time they snooped with the following devices:

  • High definition camcorder (like a Panasonic camcorder with optical zoom) can guess a passcode from 44 metres away
  • iPhone 5 camera can guess from 10 feet away
  • A Logitech webcam
  • Google Glass
  • Samsung smartwatch

 

Longer passcodes aren’t necessarily safer too. Although they didn’t test the system on longer passcodes, the researchers believe that they’re possible to guess with 78% accuracy.

 

Lead researcher and computer science professor Xinwen Fu commented ‘I think of this as a kind of alert about Google Glass, smartwatches, all these devices. If someone can take a video of you typing on the screen, you lose everything.’

 

The study points out the need for a safer way to design authentication since spying is now easy. Fu singled out Google Glass because they are more covert to use when spying on someone logging in their iPad passcode: ‘Because Glass is on your head, it’s perfect for this kind of sneaky attack.’

 

This isn’t the first time Google Glass has received criticism for privacy intrusion. In a statement, Google said ‘Unfortunately, stealing passwords by watching people as they type them … is nothing new. We designed Glass with privacy in mind. 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.’

 

Meanwhile, Android has introduced a way for users to boost protection when logging in their passcodes. They will be launching software called Privacy Enhancing Keyboard, an add-on that randomises the layout of a phone or tablet’s lockscreen keyboard.

 

For those who use other OS, some safety tips include physical protections like covering the hands or the screen.

 

 

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