So here’s some worrying news: Hackers can actually find out your PIN and passwords just by analysing the way you tilt a phone in your hand.
The revelation comes from cyber experts at Newcastle University who say they’ve developed a technique which allows them to easily monitor the motion sensors on smartphones and tablets.
By detecting the movement of a device while the keyboard is being used the team say they were able to crack a four-digit PIN with 70% accuracy on the first guess and then with 100% accuracy by the fifth.
Lead author Dr Maryam Mehrnezhad, a research fellow in the School of Computing Science, said: “Most smartphones, tablets, and other wearables are now equipped with a multitude of sensors, from the well-known GPS, camera and microphone to instruments such as the gyroscope, rotation sensors and accelerometer.
“But because mobile apps and websites don’t need to ask permission to access most of them, malicious programs can covertly ‘listen in’ on your sensor data and use it to discover a wide range of sensitive information about you such as phone call timing, physical activities and even your touch actions, PINs and passwords.”
Because there is no uniform way of managing sensors across the industry, the research points towards there being a real threat to personal security.
Yet despite these findings the authors believe that many of the major companies involved have yet to find a way to tackle this problem, even though they’re fully aware that they exist.
After publishing the findings today in the International Journal of Information Security, the team is now looking at the additional risks posed by personal fitness trackers which are linked to online profiles.
Dr Mehrnezhad said: “More worryingly on some browsers we found that if you open a page on your phone or tablet which hosts one of these malicious codes and then open, for example, your online banking account without closing the previous tab, then they can spy on every personal detail you enter.
“And worse still, in some cases, unless you close them down completely, they can even spy on you when your phone is locked.
“Despite the very real risks, when we asked people which sensors they were most concerned about we found a direct correlation between perceived risk and understanding.
“So people were far more concerned about the camera and GPS than they were about the silent sensors.”
The team was able to identify 25 different sensors which came as standard on most smart devices and were used to give different information about the device and its user.
The researchers found that each user touch action – clicking, scrolling, holding and tapping – induced a unique orientation and motion trace and so on a known webpage, the team was able to determine what part of the page the user was clicking on and what they were typing.
They said they had alerted all the major browser providers such as Google and Apple of the risks but so far no-one has been able to come up with an answer.
The Best Gadgets You Can Buy In 2017
If you own a 4K TV and also own an original Xbox One then the Xbox One S
is the console for you. It is quite simply Microsoft’s best Xbox ever, it’s also the cheapest 4K Blu-ray player you’ll be able to buy this side of Christmas. Your games collection will look stunning and if you trade in your old console the relatively small cost shouldn’t sting while you wait for Microsoft’s uber-console Project Scorpio to arrive next year.
This is Apple’s best iPhone ever
, and if we’re honest it’s one of their most innovative devices yet. Its exceptional camera, combined with with a slim, water-resistant body mean that while it's not a leap in design it is a leap in just about everything else. No it doesn't have a headphone jack, but wireless audio is finally ready.
as a complete package is the future, not just one single feature.It’s knowing that everything you’ve ever recorded is available in every room. It’s knowing that you can download any recorded show onto your iPad. It’s also knowing that every Sky Q box also doubles as a WiFi hotspot.This is where Sky Q makes sense. This is an all-in-one system, it does literally everything. There’s no switching, no painful tinkering, it all neatly fits together and if there’s one thing us humans like it’s everything working just as it should.
This is Google’s iPhone. It’s that simple. As such there are achievements and compromises. If you’re after an incredibly well-built, powerful Android flagship, Google have given you a truly five-star smartphone
. If you’re a photographer, the Pixel’s camera and cloud storage option make this a no brainer. This is Google's first 'made by us' smartphone and it's absolutely brilliant.
If your boiler is compatible and you’re willing to spend the initial £249 (including installation) then Hive
is one of the most complete smart home systems we’ve ever seen. While Nest offers third-party accessories like Philips Hue, Hive almost fights back by keeping things simple: If it’s got the Hive logo on it you know it works. Components are reasonably priced and the entire system has been utterly rock solid, we haven’t had a single issue since installation.
works best when you have other gadgets that it can utilise such as Hive, Nest or Philips Hue. On its own its an incredibly smart speaker, paired with these other gadgets though and it becomes the fully fledged conduit to your home. It’s also really good at doing homework. Alexa really is the first gadget we actually felt comfortable talking to.
Don't be alarmed by its alien appearance. This is actually one of the most innovative music-making gadgets we've used all year. A large transparent gel-like surface is both touch and pressure sensitive allowing you to create music in a way that's both utterly unique and incredibly intuitive. The accompanying app is properly easy to use and once mastered the Lightpad can become the only tool you need to create an entire song.
The Series 2
is the complete package. It’s the smartwatch that we feel Apple always wanted to make. It’s a fitness tracker, health monitor and wellness device that’ll help you stay fit and, just as importantly, calm in mind.
At £299 this is not a cheap option, however for that money you’ll get a product that’s just as happy being your main living room speaker as it is keeping you company on a road trip. The sound quality is truly room-filling and at the high standard you would expect for a Bang & Olufson product. The A2 Active
is quite simply one of the best Bluetooth speakers you can buy.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
is powerful but won’t run out of battery, beautiful yet able to work underwater and capable of transporting you to alien worlds through the medium of virtual reality. If there’s a product that encapsulates all the of the best technologies on offer today it’s this one. Oh and it won't catch fire, so that's nice.
At the moment, if you own a PS4 and are desperately excited to get into virtual reality, PlayStation VR is the only place to start. It’s comfortable, gloriously easy to use and when the hardware and software work in harmony it’s an utterly breathtaking experience. Visceral, emotional and yet entirely accessible, it’s a technological marvel.
Anyone who wants an industry-leading sound but without the usually eye-watering price tag. Yes, these are £699, but when you think that the average audiophile will spend upwards of £1000 on a pair of HiFi-quality headphones these make every bit of sense. They’re B&W’s best headphones ever and they’re quite frankly one of the best pairs of headphones
we’ve ever used.
If you’re looking for an affordable (it costs as much as the original PS4) entry into the world of 4K gaming then the PS4 Pro
is a no brainer. Pair it with a 4K HDR TV and games look absolutely astonishing. At present most games are simply being given a new coat of paint but going forward there will be an army of titles designed with this console in mind.
The OnePlus 3T
is simply a continuation of the ethos that makes OnePlus phones so good. It’s exceptionally well-built, powerful and offers you everything you could want in an affordable and meaningful package. No smartphone will give you more value for money.
Beats by Dre
While Apple's AirPods might have got most of the limelight in the post-iPhone 7 world it's actually Apple-owned Beats who have given us the ultimate solution to the lack of a headphone jack.The Powerbeats3
are ultra-portable, durable, wireless headphones that are a doddle to set up and last for days then we’ve found the pair for you. They sound great, they’re comfy, they’re perfect for sports and they last for days. These are very, very good.
TVs are massive these days. They're also really really expensive. The KS9000 then has a very special place in our hearts because at a very sane 49-inches it's the most living room-friendly TV we've seen in recent years. Oh and because it's part of Samsung's flagship range you're still getting probably one of the best 4K TVs on the market.
While it was released in December of 2015, Sonos' newest speaker
has played an undisputedly important role in how we consume music in 2016. This was the year of wireless and Sonos continued to show us that when it comes to ditching those wires, they were one of the best.
This is the anti-fitness tracker of fitness trackers. Boasting a beautifully minimalist design the Pop is all about getting the job done without shouting about it. A simple measurement dial at the bottom shows you varying metrics for how active you're being while Withings' app reveals just how much data is actually being collected. While Fitbit has led the way in Fitness trackers, Withings has been offering even the most resistant consumer a change to start taking better care of themselves./