Can hackers can tell what you’re texting just by listening?


Hackers may soon be able to discern information from the sounds of typing.

A 2019 study of the budding phenomenon, obtained by Cornell University and not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal, found that Android phones and tablets are able to pick up sound waves of typing through their microphones.

In theory, these sound waves can dictate where on a screen a person was tapping, meaning hackers could have access to pins, logins, text messages and other sensitive and private content, the Wall Street Journal reports. So, if hackers were able to access a device’s microphone — they could be privy to messages sent through the phone.

The research was conducted at the University of Cambridge and Linköping University in Sweden, where scientists were able to recover 27 out of 45 passwords on a phone, and 19 out of 27 passwords on a tablet, all through typing vibrations.

“If right now it’s really hard to imagine anybody deploying these attacks, in the near future they’re definitely going to be there,” study author Ilia Shumailov tells the WSJ.

The report also refers to a 2012 paper, also not peer-reviewed, from the University of Pennsylvania, which found that researchers could discern an Android phone numerical password 43% of the time and swipe pattern passcode 73% of the time.

While researchers said that this style of hacking is not currently a concern, as technology progresses, these breaches could become reality.

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