Study Shows Hackers Can Easily Crack Your Phone’s 4-Number PIN Password

You don’t click on unsafe emails. And you’re always stingy about giving permissions to apps for access to your device.

Think you’re safe? Think again.

Because, according to NTU researchers, there’s a huge security hole in smartphone security. One that hasn’t been resolved.

Image: quickmeme.com

For those who own a smartphone, I assume that’s all of you reading right now, here’s what you need to know.

Hackers Can Gather Data From Your Phone Sensors & Guess Your PIN Within 3 Tries

And we’re not talking about some measly number like 75% of the time. It’s more like 99.5% accuracy.

Think of how many ibanking and other important apps require PIN number passcodes.

Now you realise the danger, right?

NTU researchers built a custom app which takes comprehensive data from a smartphone’s sensor data.

They got three people to key in 210 random 4-number PINs on the smartphone.

Then their app got to work.

It recorded factors like how the phone was tilted and how much light is blocked by the thumb or fingers.

Then, the app’s deep-learning algorithm assigned different levels of importance to the numbers over time.

These are all collected with the phone’s accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, proximity sensor, barometer, and ambient light sensor.

But here’s the really bad news

If you thought that was the worst of it, think again.

According to the researchers, all apps collect sensor data like these from their users and they require virtually no permission to do so.

i.e. You have virtually no defence against them.

This means that you might not even know you’ve downloaded a malicious app, at least not until the app’s deep-learning algorithm has finished its job.

That’s when the attackers will come in and rob you blind.

The research was only done on Android phones but Apple users, don’t be too happy yet because the researchers mentioned that these sensor data are open to apps on both iOS and Android.

Google wasn’t notified of this potential loophole in smartphone security but the team mentioned that they published their findings in a public domain.

In addition, they’ve submitted the paper to a security conference next year.

So what can you do?

For a start, go for passcodes that are longer than 4-number PINs. Things like you’llneverguessmypassword92811 or something along that line.


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In addition, try to 2FA your device with other authentication methods like one-time passwords (OTP) or facial recognition or fingerprint thingy or whatever security thingy your phone has.

Better be safe than sorry, aye?

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